Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Hiccup

I've had a few hiccups in my life, many of them revolving around moving without much prior notice. In college I'd planned to live in DC after graduation, but with three weeks left in school, I decided to move back to Michigan. A year later I moved to Chicago with a little more planning but even fewer people to watch my back. Then there was the move to Mexico. That took two full months of planning but was by far the largest undertaking I'd ever handled.

Then there was my parents wedding... I had just turned seven and my parents had the brilliant idea of having their children stand alongside them for the duration of the service. (My brother and sister were twelve and eleven, respectively.) The ceremony started nicely: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here –"

"Hic!"

Everyone looked at me, startled at the noise that burst from my throat.

"Hic!"

Yes, I had the hiccups, and no amount of kicking from my brother would make them stop. For years I was teased for hiccuping through the entire service. I was seven, what could I do? My mom was supposed to help me with those types of things, but she was busy gazing into my new dad's eyes. I was on my own, with my hiccups.

Recently I've hit another hiccup. This one didn't involve moving or spasms of air in my throat, but the results have disrupted my life. I finished the first draft of my book in November, just before my trip back to the States. My mom read it while I was home and made some comments, and I started my own edits shortly after.

"Look at me, I'm editing my book!" I thought to myself, excited that I was really doing it.

Midway through December I finished the hard copy edits and began entering them into the Word document. I tweaked things as I went, feeling confident that it was slowly coming together.

Except for those sections I had to rewrite. Or write in the first place. Remember when I said I forgot to write about the actual immigration process? Way back in October? Well, that's been hanging over my head for months. I've also been unhappy with the first three pages - the very beginning of my story.

I also don't have an ending, but since I haven't decided at what point to cut this thing off, I'm not to concerned about that, yet.

These little rewrites have stalled me, a hiccup in the process. I got myself so worked up that I was unable to write anything. Granted, there have been a few things in my personal life that may have played a part as well, but I've been hung up on the equivalent of five typed pages.

Then, during an inspirational scene in Flashdance, I remembered the rule to give yourself permission to write crap. When had I decided I was above this? When I finished my first draft? Bollocks. I can't edit something that doesn't exist, so how did I think I was ever going to continue moving forward?

Today I forced myself to sit down and write the missing pieces. The words were already in my head, I just had to clear away the doubts and get my thoughts on paper. I wrote in longhand, instead of on the computer - something about my handwriting makes it feel a little more real - and finished the intro and the immigration bit in about an hour.

I still need to work on the conclusion, but now that the hiccups have passed I'm feeling a little more confident.

6 comments:

Mel's mom said...

Good for you! And, by the way, I did hear you hiccuping all through the ceremony... I just considered it one of those stories that would be told afterwards. Love, Mom

Kate Boddie said...

Yay for not succumbing to the fabled "writer's block"! God forbid you write something that's sub par to your own standards that no one else but you will see, right? If everyone thought like you, there wouldn't be anyone whining about "writer's block"!

Melanie Avila said...

I know. It was hard to force my way through, but I feel so much better now. Now for that flingin-flangin conclusion!

And mom, I know you heard me. :)

MRasey said...

Yay! Good for you!

Hiccup.

M

Heather said...

This is inspirational (and the wedding hiccups sound adorable!) because I have a draft that isn't finished (I know the general ending, but it's not written) and I'm beginning the daunting process of editing...I'm so thrilled to read that I'm not the only one...and you're succeeding!

Anonymous said...

I love the story about your hiccups and how it ties into your current WIP. Very cute post, and I totally understand how you feel.