My Cloak Of Invisibility

I’m at the final stage of editing my children’s novel. I should have been done long ago, but I’m a recovering perfectionist and I saw how rejection killed my spirit at a conference in New York City last January. I’m also a wife, a mom, a semi-regular columnist and a woman who’s trying to do way too much. Like many writers, I’ve come to realize that the long sought dream of shutting myself in an office to write doesn’t materialize as often as one might think. I hear there’s an invisibility cloak in the making, like the one from Harry Potter, and I’d like to order one.

In addition to writing my first novel, I’m trying to keep track of a dog, a rabbit, a houseful of painters working on three floors of our home, groceries, dry cleaning, music lessons for three kids, my own exercise and sleep, critique group meetings (missing those far too often), staying in touch with friends (and often doing a lousy job of it) and family (not successful there either, I’m afraid).

The worst part is, Halloween‘s approaching. I’ve been hiding costume catalogs from my kids because I just can’t take one more thing right now.

I’ve thought many times that I might have ADD. If I had the time, I’d get diagnosed.

Yesterday, I was so proud of myself for heading to a quiet office to edit for several hours. As I drove to this little beacon of solitude, I felt guilty leaving my husband and kids on a gorgeous Saturday. What a perfect day for the beach. Skipping a day of Indian Summer in Chicago is as wrong as ordering a pulled-pork sandwich on a cell-phone during a bar mitzvah.

What I’ve learned is that writing a novel you care about (is there any other type?) takes longer than you’ll ever imagine. You live and breathe your characters. You look at the world through their eyes. When you love your characters, you know never to force their words or actions, lest they appear on the page as anything less than authentic. As a reader, you want the author to stay out of the way so the characters and setting and plot and movement all work in tandem to transport you into another world.  The ironic challenge as a writer is to inhabit your work so completely that you actually make yourself completely invisible.

I’m riding the waves of this journey. The trough I’m in right now feels so deep and dark. The revision and editing process is “the best part” for some, but not for me. It’s hard. It’s cumbersome. It’s tedious.

It’s also necessary.

I’m declaring now to anyone reading this: the revisions will be complete by the end of this month and the manuscript will be in the hands (or on the screens) of multiple agents before Halloween. This might mean my kids’ will be mummies wrapped in toilet paper this year.

I hope someday they’ll forgive me.

10 responses to “My Cloak Of Invisibility

  1. Meg Fleming Lentz

    You’re making me cry. Again! Go, go, go Christine! Following the call of your dream is an invitation for others to find their own. Congratulations, friend… and thank you for this. xoxo

  2. Thank you, Meg. You know, all too well, what it’s like to be a writer and a busy mom!

  3. I’m not a writer, but I do get it as a fellow work from home Mom. You always seem to write what I’m feeling. Love your honesty & willingness to open up yourself. I’m very excited to read your novel!!
    Can we join you as mummies?

  4. I love the idea of Mummies!!!! We are all rooting for you! I can’t wait to meet the characters in your novel!

  5. Everything — and writing especially — takes longer than we think. I’ve been working on an essay I first wrote 4 years ago. It took hours then to get in “perfect” form. Now a new editor has looked at it and said it needs to have a more “universal theme.” 20 hours later (!) for a 15 page essay, and I have a draft I’m sort of happy with. but I’ll bet it still gets rejected by the writing powers that be. Go Girl. Follow your dream; your kids don’t have to have THE most original costume for Halloween. Get them something at a local store in a 1 hour shopping frenzy. They won’t remember anyway. As long as they get the candy!

  6. Love this Chris. Good luck finishing your labor of love this month. I’ll order the Halloween costumes for you if you want — have Henry send me an email with the requests!

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