It's a good thing I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I said "yes" to writing a book. For the last nine months, I've written just over 70,000 words and 11 chapters. In order to hit my manuscript deadline of July 1, since September I've been writing an hour or two every week night and at least half a day every weekend. I greatly underestimated the amount of work it would take to get to this point. Here's the kicker - I'm not even close to being done.
God bless Tony and Lisa, my editors at Fortress Press. They may need a raise after the overtime they've had to put in editing my book. Let's just say, I should have paid a little more attention and not slept through most of Ms. Day's English class my senior year of high school. When I received the first edits and comments back, my proverbial balloon got popped. I'd done the best I could and it was not as good as I hoped. Entire chapters were marked through, every "would" had a red line through it (who knew you weren't supposed to use "would" so much?), along with what seems like an overwhelming amount of additional writing I'm going to need to do over the next few months.
When I turned in my manuscript, I didn't have any grand illusions I was completely finished. I just didn't realize how long the process actually takes. I feel like a sprinter who thought he was running the 400 meter dash and as he approaches the finish line, he's told to keep going and that he's actually running a marathon. It's not anyone's fault but my own. I simply signed up a for a race I didn't know I was running.
Additionally, since I had poured so much time and emotions into what I have written, I was totally unprepared for how much the the edits and critiques hurt. As Tony gently put it, "I have a lot of work to do."
I thought seriously about quitting.
A part of me is tired of writing and I miss spending time with my family. After nine months, I'm exhausted thinking so hard about how I feel and writing it down everyday.
I'm not a writer. I like to write but I'm an amateur, at best. It takes me a long time to form a good sentence. My ability to write well is even more handicapped when I'm given a deadline. To be frank, deadlines just take all the fun out of writing for me. It makes it really hard work.
The book writing process has been a fascinating experience. I never imagined how many rounds of edits and how many months or even years it takes to get a book completed. I have a new found respect and admiration for full time authors who have written multiple books. The amount of time they spend in front of blank pieces of paper and screens is unimaginable to me.
Additionally, my family has suffered because of the time I've had to commit to writing. It's my fault and Brea will tell you that I normally take on a project and then figure out how to make it happen without thinking about the consequences. Part of it is my nature. I like working on creative projects. I'm starting to realize, though, I use work and projects as a distraction from my pain.
Working, writing, fundraising, staying busy - all keep my mind occupied. I'm afraid of being still too long for fear of my grief coming to the surface. Doing these projects seems good and worthwhile from the outside, but other aspects of my life have suffered.
For the last nine months, my time at home with Brea, Kendall, and Kelsey has diminished. I wouldn't say that distracting myself with projects is a bad thing. Actually, I think the work has helped me stay sane and provided healing. The reality is, my daughters will only be home for 4-6 more years and I have a limited amount of time to parent them.
Since Jacob died, I've probably been more focused on healing myself than being a parent. It's not something I've consciously chosen. And, I don't think it's something I would change. I think I've done the best I could given the circumstances. The example that comes to mind is how flight attendants tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first before you help your children in the event of cabin pressure issues in flight.
If I hadn't worked on myself first, I know I wouldn't be the father my daughters need going forward.
After having a few days to gather my thoughts and Brea talking me back off the ledge of throwing in the towel, I'm feeling back on track and confident in being able to finish a book I'm proud of. Moreover, after talking with Tony about the edits and comments they gave me, I'm incredibly grateful I have people editing the book who have some distance from me. They are great at what they do and it takes guts and commitment to tell someone who is writing a book about the death of their child that it's not where it needs to be.
All that said, I'm so thankful to have got this far in the process. I'm taking the month of July off from writing and will get back to edits and rewrites in August. The book release is tentatively scheduled for Spring/Summer of 2017. For now, I'm going home after work and spending evenings and weekends with the girls, and it feels amazing!
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