I have crossed many finish lines in my life. Some of them real; some of them proverbial. My days as a cross country and track runner contained many literal finish lines. However, crossing the finish line for completing a manuscript didn’t include a white line.
To extend the race metaphor a bit further, this is the longest run I have ever been on. Like, five years. And it’s not over just yet. Once my editor finishes her review, more edits and rewrites will be required before the final product is ready to present to the public. But for right now, I am basking in the glow of completing the first leg of this race.
So many writers write about their craft. I’m grateful. I learn from them and try to take their truths and apply them to my own writing. But there are lessons that you can only learn from going through the experience yourself. For instance, I’m a “S” on the Myers-Briggs personality test, which means I take in information using my senses—those things I can touch, taste, hear, smell, or see. I’m pragmatic and pay attention to the final product. It also means that I tend to focus on the facts at hand rather than considering new possibilities. Editing requires a writer to consider new possibilities.
When I started writing Everywhere God, I had four chapters of notes from an adult Sunday School class that I taught as my starting point. These notes turned into those initial chapters of my book. They have changed and evolved over the writing process, but a chunk of the content is the same. However, my first chapter, “Encountering God in Creation” still felt “off,” even though I had rewritten a good bit of it. Driving back from Georgia last weekend, I realized I had more work to do and needed to rewrite even more. I started to panic. I had a deadline and I was starting back to school on Monday. My “I” (intuitive) husband told me not to worry. It was going to be fine. I realized in this moment: I don’t like rewriting (not that anyone does). I want a finished product on the first go-around.
I preach rewriting all day long to my students, but I was relearning this lesson for myself this time. That night, as Brad and I checked into our hotel, I pulled out my laptop and got to work. I had an idea for a new introduction to the chapter. And so began the process of writing, deleting, rewriting, and editing. I worked on other sections of the chapter as well, fighting down the urge “to get this finished,” hoping instead for content that resonates with my readers and conveys the message I want them to hear.
I still have a lot to learn about writing. I’ve told my students I will show them my manuscript when I receive it back from my editor. I want them to see the mistakes, the changes I will need to address. We can learn together.