A time to write and a time to edit

Since an Unusual Idea for a book came to me a few years ago, my mind has been returning frequently to a Big Thought about Actually Maybe Writing a Book. Maybe you know this feeling too: one of those Big Five Year Thoughts. Details to check. Implications and ethics to process. Books – many books, to acquire, borrow, read, scan, file, laugh at and cry with. Preparation mentally too, because I need to know I Can and that it is OK to do this. And listening cautiously to those who wisely said that they believe I Can and that it is definitely OK to do this and that it is OK to want to bless many others (which is the most exciting element because I passionately want to do that) and to use things I’ve learned to help others who are struggling or who need to hear Good Things. So I’ve been preparing my body, my mind, my family and a creative workspace.


I have tried allowing the Idea to escape, but discovered it over and over again in my heart and in my head like an eager puppy waiting for me to pick up a stick of words and fling them out on another adventure. Patterns come to me and peculiar ideas. Dialogue and details. The Idea is something which doesn’t seem to come from me. The drive to complete it is also bigger than my own plans and perspective. I tried living my life the way I felt others wanted it lived and found that things didn’t work out right. So I stopped fighting it. It works.

Now there is nothing which should be stopping me. The children are in schools and the house is in sufficient order for our continued survival. My husband is settled in his work. We live in a place where writing is normal. All the life experience I have gained, not limited to travelling to interesting places and learning various languages, studying with academics, working with teachers, with prison staff and with fascinating young people, living with my family and with housemates, with my husband and my children, listening to people on the edges and many, many women trying to hold so many things together are now all coming into focus as the Big Thought nears its end.

It is time.

This puppy is not going to write itself.

So. I have box files and note books and shelves of academic books and fiction and thoughts scribbled on index cards, hidden lest others find them unfinished (and not necessarily in the right order), waiting. I have a plot grid, with ideas to complete. Everything is as ready as it is going to be.

This November I am committing to getting the first draft of this book down, giving my inner editor a break and threatening to set my Idea Puppy on it should it try and hamper my word count. Now is not the time for editing. Now is the time for writing.


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