Dear Old Me,
I know. The writing’s not going well. More precisely, the revision is not going well. You thought you had this amazing draft at the end of NaNo (well, technically, it was New Years 2012, but you started November 1st, which is what matters). You thought you got this. It wasn’t a hot mess. You even sent it to your best friend, and she said she cried because it resonated so hard with her.
And now you’re re-reading what you wrote, and you can’t even remember writing this.
The critique you got from you less-invested friend seems too kind in comparison. Nothing is right. You try to backtrack, you crack out the sticky notes and the coloured pens, and you try, and you try, and you try, all throughout the summer and into the Parisian autumn, until it’s NaNo again and you throw yourself into a new project to soothe your aching pride.
I’ve got bad news for you, my love. You’ll be revising this story for another 3 years. (You’ll also go on a bunch of first dates, get crushes, get depressed, claw your way out, start doing Jiu Jitsu and Argentine tango, run a half marathon, and, oh, by the way, you will finish your degree. Then you’ll get another one. Then you’ll start another one. Because Uni will redeem itself big time.)
Though I did not keep an accurate record of that time, I can remember very clearly what it was to be you, Old Me. You were lonely, and you were very aggressive about it. (You won’t lose the anger, by the way. But it comes handy. I swear.) You had very big expectations of yourself, and not one ounce of the tools you needed to cope with it. You could not see life beyond the next exam, or getting your placement.
I’m sorry to say it won’t get any easier. You won’t make it easy for yourself either.
I cannot promise you that the future will be all butterflies and rainbows. Your pride, in particular, will take a severe beating. You’ll choose jobs that will make you look at the sadness of the world, and you will keep coming back to them, because they are what you are good at and what makes you feel good. Whether you find love is still questionable.
But I can tell you this – yes, you can revise.
The writing is hard. Making changes is hard. Accepting that your manuscript isn’t perfect is hard. But you know what? You’re not the kind of person that gives up because things are hard. You are the jitsuka who seeks out the guy twice her size to train with. You are the girl who goes for extra classes in her Master’s degree and does the work like it’s going to count. You take ages to work up the guts to confess liking somebody, but my God, you go for it.
So please, don’t put away your manuscript. Don’t chase the new, shiny ideas indefinitely. Sit down with the story you wrote and read it honestly. If it needs a complete re-write (and yes, it does) you’ll do it. Then you’ll re-read it again. Then you’ll re-write it again. Then you’ll re-read it and edit it, and edit it again, and when you can’t edit it anymore, you will sit back and you’ll smile.
It’s much like meeting an old friend. Or the soreness after a really intense training session. It hurts sometimes, but it was so worth it.
Cheer up. You’re not a literary genius. You’re better off that way.
Love and kisses,