Back when I was in college one of my professors assigned our final paper, due about a month hence, then admonished “don’t forget to give yourself time to let your subconscious work for you.” At the time I knew the subconscious only as something I would rather not think about – some murky recess of the mind where bad experiences and socially unacceptable impulses get stored up, coiled and waiting, emerging suddenly to romp terrifyingly through my dreams or manifest in the most socially awkward way possible. It had not occurred to me that my subconscious might actually help me.
More recently my subconscious really came through for me. As regular readers of my blog know, I completed a manuscript over a year ago, and received feedback indicating that it needed some serious revisions. In the intervening time I started a new job (unrelated to writing) and had to work so hard to learn the ropes in my new role that I had very little, if any, mental space to devote to manuscript revisions. This was really frustrating because I really do want to push this to the next phase and find out if I can make it as a fiction writer.
In the past year my only effort towards working on the manuscript was to attend two workshops. I had gone into the first workshop thinking that I needed to rewrite one of the characters, but after I talked to one of the coaches I started thinking more in terms of reordering. Even so, I assumed there would be a lot of rewriting.
Recently I reached the point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to work on my book. I sat down with the calendar to figure out when I might be able to take a week to go away and focus. Drat! I was going to have to wait months. OK, how about a weekend? Drat again! So many upcoming weekends were already spoken for. Aggggh!
Then I realized that ‘away’ doesn’t have to mean hundreds of miles away, or even a county away. Away just means, away from the laundry, housework, yard work, pets, and assorted chores that distract me when I am within the walls of my house. Away can mean … downtown. So, I booked a room downtown for two nights and figured that I would do nothing for two days but basic functions (eating, sleeping, exercise) and revising.
I headed downtown Friday afternoon after work, and stepped off the Link train near my house approximately 48 hours later, somewhat dazed, but also euphoric, because I had realized, about halfway through Sunday afternoon, that I was nearly done. I didn’t need a week; I didn’t need hundreds of miles of geography between myself and home turf. What I needed was 2 days without interruption so I could harvest all the work my diligent, ever-helpful, and much-appreciated subconscious had done for me over the past year and a half. I need about 3 more chapters to fill in one character’s arc, but other than that, I think I might (finally) be ready for prime time.
Now to write those last chapters …