Editing a Bad Page
You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.— Jodi Picoult
The Middle Build
When I was 27, I found myself on a bad page I’d written. That page was a book out of my life, and I wasn’t quite sure how to edit it. The truth is, I’d been pantsing my way through life, seeing where the plot and characters would take me. Then all of a sudden, I realized my story was redundant.
I’d just been laid off from my coffee house gig, my partner had left me, and I was experiencing anxiety attacks daily while trying my hand at returning to school. The only thing good I had going for me was school (and of course my awesome and supportive friends and family—very lucky in that department).
I knew something had to change. I set my aims high, so high that I wanted to get into the best English department in England. If I was going to study literature, I might as well do it in England. I set my sights on Durham University, which I did manage to get into.
What I didn’t know about my badly written page was that it was turning into a chapter, and actually leading to the middle build of the novel of my 20’s. Let’s skip forward to the climax, in which I was living in a caravan in a field in North Yorkshire, working 15 hours a week supporting my partner and me and our two dogs, freezing because there was a hole in the bathroom floor big enough to fall through, and my anxiety exhausting me into depression which debilitated me, which then spurred more anxiety because I wasn’t getting anything done.
This was what rock bottom looked like for me. At least, it was the lowest I’d ever been. Something had to change.
That was the decision I made. Something had to change.
I went to the doctor who sent me to stress management classes which lasted for six weeks and did nothing other than make me feel like I was just being pandered to. I was told I could have one on one sessions, but it took a year to set those up. I was desperate for some actual help at that point, and since the NHS was pretty slow (though otherwise is quite brilliant), I had to take matters into my own hands.
I researched, I read, I wrote, I practiced, I listened. I found countless books to read and listen to on my Kindle or via Audible. Some were profound while others were less than helpful. I began my Tarot website and started producing information on the Tarot and writing, all the while selling Tarot readings. The use of Tarot helped me delve into myself, forced me to journal, and helped me remember my spiritual connection.
I realized that was what I had lost along the way. While living my 20’s, I’d forgotten my faith and love in the Universe, my connection to the earth and elements, and had simply been existing in the material world. So much of me was neglected by neglecting my spiritual side.
I pinpointed the fear within me, learned to identify it, learned to address it and quell it by reasoning with it. I learned to release it. Gradually, over a year, my anxiety almost completely disappeared.
This is the simplified version of my practice, of course. So much time daily went into reading, reflecting, meditating, writing, discussing with others going through similar things, and repeating these exercises.
I learned gratitude, and one thing I am absolutely grateful for was that my job was only part time, which allowed me so much time to work on myself and heal.
By the time I did get to the one-on-one practitioner, were Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions, I didn’t really feel that I needed her. I went through the process anyway to see if there was some more information that I missed. But for me, it was just affirming that I was on the right track, that I’d done alright on my own.
The Next Book
I am of course by no means saying that my way is the way that anyone and everyone should take. This is just my path and what worked for me.
Once I reached a stable point in my life, I realised that it was time to start the book of my 30’s, which is what I’m in now. My story has seeped into the next book, setting myself, and now I’ve had the inciting incident: starting Natural Writer Coaching.
For this novel, I have more of an outline, a structure that I’m aiming for. I don’t think I’ll be panting this one. I know how to correct my course now, at least, I have more tools to do so, and like any writer, I’m still learning my way through the ropes.
Life and writing are a never-ending set of lessons. You won’t be able to master all of it, but you can get pretty good at it.
My goal is to help people with their own projects, their own novels, however they are presented.
Love and Light