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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Okay. Fine. My Baby is Ugly.

Whenever I question whether or not I can do something difficult, Andrea assures me that I can and will then give examples of me overcoming difficult things in the past, like enlisting in the Army and serving for 4 years or earning my Masters degree - two examples she provided this past week when I asked her if she thought I could survive the final round of edits and push this book across the finish line to the final round of publication.

I previously mentioned on this blog that before Christmas time that someone cautioned me about burning the candle at both ends, which I can now see that I was doing and, sure enough, got sick the Friday before Christmas. That illness moved in, made itself comfortable and lingered throughout the month of January.

I recall driving my car somewhere in January, thinking, "I don't get it. I've been able to keep many balls in the air previously, why is this catching up with me now?" Then realizing, i wasn't the age I am now. My mom will no doubt read this and mutter, “I’ve been trying to tell you this.” And she has - she tells me to hire people for moving heavy pieces of furniture and other tasks that will, she says, eventually catch up with me.

This final phase of edits is intense. I have throughout the short month of February to pull this together. Every time my editor leaves written feedback, I have a visceral reaction. Or I think, “Oh shut up.”

“Your baby is ugly.” Editor

“Oh shut up.” Me

I feel myself physically repelling. Shutting down.

Then, the next day, I go back in and read her feedback once more and think, “Dammit.

My baby is ugly.” A bitter pill of humility I am forced to swallow.

Yes, I could benefit from brevity there.

Yes, I should break that paragraph apart.

Fine. The hook could be….hookier for that chapter.

Okay, yes. I see how the chapter does veer off course there.

Writing and editing a book is one of the most challenging things I’ve done. And, I have done many hard things.

I have blogged for approximately 20 years. And, if people even read your blog, it’s unlikely they will comment that it’s a dumpster fire. They will just move on. Many times, they will leave a nice comment, compliment you on your writing.

When I went to grad school, I wrote papers. Long and several. And was told they were good.

I came to believe that I was an okay writer, a craft I’d been improving upon since I was a kid. I thought, I can write a book.

Spoiler alert: writing a book is a whole lot different than writing a paper for school.

I am not even citing my references in the familiar style of APA or even MLA. Chicago style - which seems ironic given my midwestern roots.

This weekend, Andrea and I secreted away. She coughed. I edited. I made great progress editing. Chapter after chapter. And this past week, I put a new chapter to paper that’s been dancing in my head a while now.

There’s more to do - I have an ugly baby to deal with in part 3 of my book. Whenever I think of it, I picture Sloth from the Goonies (photo below). I wish I could throw a Baby Ruth at it but it won’t be that easy. I have an entire chapter to write that I tried to squish into another chapter. But, I can do hard things and can make time to care for myself while doing it. Which will actually help - there’s the irony.

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