Up early combing through these first page proofs and I’m glad I didn’t take the fast/easy way out. Finding before-hidden errors that could have been embarrassing. Thanks Diane Lefer and Kelly Cherry for your excellent advice. I had wanted to rush through, using my trusty editing program, and be done with it. But Kelly and Diane encouraged me to read every word, every time the opportunity to do so presented itself. The thing with reading the manuscript over and over again is I become a blubbering mess each time. I know there’s this distance that is supposed to come as you get deeper and deeper into the revision process, but that hasn’t come for me.
Some days I can just push through unscathed, but there are days I’m that little girl again, confused, angry, and unsure that there is a way out. Friday, I could barely make it to Chico’s arms before the tears shook me defenseless. All I could say, over and over again, was this is so sad. It’s so very sad that children have to live like this. Up until that day, my tears had never been for myself. They were for the child I was writing about and writing to. But on that day, I realized it was me, that I don’t often allow myself to cry for that little girl in me. And it was sad. It is still sad, even sadder when I look at my baby girl, knowing how used over and tired I was by the time I was her age, fourteen. And the sadness becomes all encompassing when I imagine today’s fourteen-year-olds, feeling like men and women, acting like men and women because circumstances won’t allow them to be children.
So, I’ve acknowledged the tears are part of the process, even this late in the revision process, and my family knows this, so they force me to take breaks throughout the day. Chico even went shopping for towels and sheets with me at Kohls :-). That man loves me!
And I want to get this right. I don’t want any distracting errors pulling the reader from the narrative, giving the allusion my story and the stories of children like me aren’t worth getting right. So, I’ll keep reading and crying every opportunity I can. We should all be crying because no matter where we are in our lives, no matter how happy, loved, and sheltered our babies are, there are still children in this world suffering, in real-time, atrocities we get to write about in our leisure, ones we get to visit when we choose, ones we get to close the book on when it gets too tough. That fact alone warrants the tears. That fact alone means we should never stop crying, trying, and working to get it right.