Four months to the day I pulled The Integration Project out of the drawer, unbundled it, and began to read. It was 22 September; I’d put it away on 22 May.
I was so nervous that I didn’t untie the ribbon for ages. The manuscript sat on the kitchen table, the shiny messages running along the ribbon—‘because wishes do come true…’—glittering up at me as silvery encouragement. And instead of sitting to read, I made dinner.
Then, later, I untied the ribbon, flung it aside, and sat down to read. Like tearing off a band-aid, you just have to start at some point.
Fountain pen in hand, I began scribbling almost immediately. As I progressed, entire paragraphs came out. Names were fixed, numbers fixed, timing fixed. Boring introductions excised.
The surgery isn’t complete. I’m just today at 77 pages into the manuscript. The pace is picking up, and after a day of discovering lines that surprised me; falling into a sex scene that just—blam!—appeared, and working out how to fix the glaring holes in consistency (of story, of character, of style), the net result is that I’m both excited and impatient for the rest of the story.
I feel that this is a good sign.
Going back to manuscripts can be tough work.
It’s tough for a couple of reasons. The first is that you can scribble and scrawl all you like, but draft two isn’t an edit, it’s a full rewrite.
The second reason is because you’re a different person today from when you wrote it.
In my case, I’m a full four months older. It doesn’t sound like much, but in that time, I’ve experienced the death of my stepfather-in-law; all of winter; a massive amount of personal growth and change; a sensation of giving less of a fuck about things; and I’ve released a book on Kindle!
In that time I have also taken the propaganda project seriously (have written at least four essays on that manuscript), and have commenced my next fiction effort, which is a themed volume of flash fiction snapshots that all link together into one story, albeit with gaps in between. That volume, if it works out the way I intend it to work out, will be like watching a story take place under a strobe light.
Approaching The Integration Project again was like going backwards in time.
I didn’t know if I’d like it.
I have had anticipatory feelings that it would be rubbish.
But here’s the most critical thing:
What I remember is not what I am reading.
The process of reading books changes you. But so does the process of writing books and then re-reading them.
Today I’m super excited about where this might go, and I’m keen to finish it so I can start shopping it out to agents! But the reality is that all things happen in good time, and art is no exception.
Small steps, taken every day, consistently, are what collude in your success.
My patrons are seeing the benefit of my increased productivity by getting updates almost every day lately(!). If you’d like to be one of them, then here’s the deal.
It’s $12 per year, it requires you to do nothing except be a passive reader, and in return you get the deep insider view of my writing life, including the earliest reads from new works. If you love this idea, all you have to do is become a sponsor.