The Slow Telling of a Story 6: Downtime

I’ve been writing these occasional essays for a little over a year. In them, I’m sharing the story of turning my manuscript into a book. It’s been a long process, and every time I think it’s gotten as long as it could, another thing comes up to slow it down again.

Read Slow Telling 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Last time I wrote, I was waiting to receive the report from my second developmenal edit. This is when a professional editor reads through the entire manuscript, and makes suggestions on how to make things more interesting, more clear; how the structure of a manuscript might flow better; which elements to consider expanding, and which to consider abandoning. The first developmental edit of my manuscript was a rough experience — the editor was very clear that there were some major pieces that needed revising and rethinking, to the point that I basically did a page-one rewrite. But he was absolutely right, and the manuscript is much better because of it.

The next step was the second developmental edit — my second draft was going to go through the same process the first draft did. I didn’t expect this edit to have anything of the same level of changes to make, but I knew there would still be some cleanup required.

I waited to receive this edit report, and then waited, and then waited some more. And along the way, I started to slip into a pretty deep depression. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Mental Illness Happy Hour, and the host announced that he had just put a new survey on the website. (The host, Paul Gilmartin, spends part of each week’s podcast reading people’s anonymous responses to a number of surveys on his website.) The new survey was called “Back in Time,” and the primary question in the survey was this: “Share a moment(s) in your life where you wish you could go back in time and say something to yourself.  Describe the situation, your age at the time and what you would say to yourself.”

I didn’t answer the survey, but I did take inspiration from it for an idea for a new story. A really dark story I call The Lepers in Your Head, a story I’m not ready to publish here or anywhere at this point. I wrote it mainly as an outlet for myself, not for public consumption. Writing it felt good, but also felt miserable at the same time. It was a melancholy place to be, and I wallowed there every night.

A few weeks into writing Lepers, I finally received the report of the developmental edit on Darkwater. I glanced at it, but didn’t really look at it more deeply. My first impression was that my second draft was indeed a lot better than the first, but I still had a lot of work to go. I considered shifting gears and working on Darkwater, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I completed the first draft of Lepers about two weeks ago.

But I still can’t get back to Darkwater.

I know I have to.

I know I want to.

I just can’t. That’s frustrating, but there it is. The story is still being told slowly, and now the slowdown is entirely due to me, due to a depression that I just can’t shake.

I’m in downtime right now. Hopefully it will lift soon.

2 thoughts on “The Slow Telling of a Story 6: Downtime

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