As I read the galleys of my forthcoming novel, The Divorce Girl, I’m finding it hard to read very much at a time and yet rereading this book is what I want to do most. Knowing this is the last read-through before publication is daunting, and not just because there may be typos lurking (like chiggers in Kansas each summer) that no one will see until it’s too late.
The lure and pressure of the final, final, final edits run in overdrive for me because of how many years I’ve been writing this novel. I started when Forest was born. He’s going to turn 17 this May. I’ve rewritten the book so many times, cut and added, changed or honed every sentence so extensively that I truly have passages of the book memorized (which makes it hard to see what’s really there). Add to this the steroid-infused impulse to “get it right,” every nuance, gesture, image, phrase, and you can imagine why I carry this galley with me wherever I go.
Of course, the urge to judge what’s here flares up its little flames as I read my own words. Luckily, I have the words of Bruce Springsteen from his speech last week at SXSW:
“Rumble, young musicians, rumble. Open your ears and open your hearts. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and take yourself as seriously as death itself. Don’t worry. Worry your ass off. Have unclad confidence, but doubt. It keeps you awake and alert. Believe you are the baddest ass in town-and you suck! It keeps you honest. Be able to keep two completely contradictory ideals alive and well inside of your heart and head at all times. If it doesn’t drive you crazy, it will make you strong.”
So I’m off to rumble in the music of this novel, checking for final off-notes and then letting it go. Holding on one last time reminds me of how much I’ve learned about writing, healing, community and love through and while writing this book, and how indebted I am to the bravery and wisdom of my characters (in this book and in my life).
Special pre-publication deal: My publisher, Ice Cube Press, is selling advance copies of the book right now, free shipping! Check it out.