Dear Manuscript…

IMG_5595Something amazing happened this week. I’ve finally shared my manuscript with my husband. It sounds crazy but I was saving him for that day in the indefinite future when my book will be almost ready to be shared with the world. I was hoping he could do my final edits. Why put him through it twice? Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally let go of that delusion. I came to realise that if I wasn’t able to share the book with my husband, how on earth would I send the whole thing to agents and publishers? It’s one thing to polish a chapter or two and show it to others; it’s entirely different thing to tidy up the manuscript as a whole.

The act of sharing was truly liberating. He surpassed all my expectations by reading it within few days. Although he loves books, he doesn’t have time to read much these days. Yet he stayed up late or woke up early and used every waking moment to read my book on his phone. He even printed it out and bound it nicely. It almost looks like a book already.

Of course, I’ve got to do a lot of editing. For example, apparently, I hover instead of hoovering sometimes. Some chapters resemble short stories, so I may need to connect them better.

But overall, it sustained his attention and he craved for more. This week we spoke about things that were memorable, and I had a chance to ask:

‘So, what do you think about …?’

It’s so great to have a sounding board to discuss the book. I don’t feel lonely anymore. He keeps coming up with book titles now that he’s been immersed into that world.

The fact that he enjoyed it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve written a bestseller. For starters, he is biased. He is not a literature buff. There are few memoirs he’s read. His interest was fuelled by ‘seeing’ my world more closely, including people he has met during our visits to Azerbaijan and places he has visited with me.

It still feels deeply satisfying. I can’t believe it took me so long.

Now I need to get on and have another round of editing.

Earlier this week, I noticed how I became super productive. I wrote three guest blog posts, and started on the fourth one. I offered three 1:1 sessions to support other women’s creative process, as well as processed my mum. I even managed to have a bit of pamper and enjoy a relaxing massage.

When I examined my actions closer, I realised though satisfying, the flurry of activity was driven by my resistance to edit the manuscript. I was willing to do anything but… So I did a bit of inner work to clear the blocks. Some of them were ‘old friends’: fear of exposure, fear of offending loved ones, fear of failure. Underneath, there were more subtle ones: if I succeed, I’d be selling out my people and I’d be profiting from betraying my country. Crazy, right? You just never know what’s really getting in the way of finishing your project.

As soon as I sent loving compassion to the part of myself that’s been secretly struggling, I felt lighter. I realised that sharing my story may draw attention to my country, but ultimately it was for the better, because young girls have been struggling there for decades. It’s time to bring more attention and consciousness to the plight of women in Azerbaijan.

The next day I was overflowing with love. I had more energy for life, for editing, for my family. Another layer is shed. Dear manuscript, I’m on my way. Thank you for being so patient with me.

28 thoughts on “Dear Manuscript…

  1. …I’ve always felt hovering to be much more fun than hoovering… 🙂
    Glad you found an appreciative and helpful reader in your husband!
    I never showed my manuscript to my family (no husband, so they’re as close as I get to that) — a little worried, but mostly interested in seeing how they’ll react to some of the poems in the book, now that it’s going to be published. I think I may need to blog about that. 🙂

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  2. A beautiful and inspiring post Gulara thank you for sharing it with us! It sounds like a birthing process to me – the agony and the ecstasy. The butterfly emerging from its cocoon or the serpent shedding its skin …
    Thank you for reminding us of that horrible inner critic that does not have our best interests at heart and we self-sabotage.
    And a zillions blessings to that dear husband of yours Gulara …
    Have a lovely weekend! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    • Ah, Susan, you are so kind. Your praise, support and feedback always warms my heart. It does feel like a birthing process. Exhilarating right now – breaking through yet another layer feels truly liberating. Thank you for reading and sharing on Twitter – so much appreciation and gratitude.

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  3. Sounds like a wonderful time to share with him. So nice that he was receptive and supportive. It’s great to have someone cheering you on and helping. As far as connecting chapters, sometimes things not flowing one into another works. I personally have enjoyed books recently that had fragmented parts that made up the whole.Just something to think about.

    I have mixed feelings about husbands or close relations like that (boyfriends, girlfriends) reading work. It definitely must be at a certain point. Sharing it with them too early could be devastating. I don’t let my husband in on my novel at all. I don’t let him read any of my notes or anything – not that he asks. I’ll probably be ready at some point, but I’m not there yet. Any other family members will read it (if they want) only once it is published.

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    • I know what you mean, Ula. Maybe that’s why it took me over a year to share it with him. I knew if he didn’t like it he wouldn’t be able to hide his reaction. So, in some ways it was a risk. Besides, he is not my ideal reader and whether he likes it or not is irrelevant as to what others might think of the book.
      It turned out to be a rather positive experience though. Plus, it encouraged me to get on and edit my manuscript.
      Thanks for the point about fragmented parts. I think the storyline carries through so I’m not too worried about connecting chapters perfectly. What bugs me most is the ending. Really struggling to have a proper ending, because in some ways it’s not an end, it’s the beginning of book 2, if that makes sense… Anyway, overall edit first. I need to do what you’ve done this week – read through and have an overall edit. Last time I did it was in March. This will be round 3.

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  4. I echo Susan’s comments. I LOVED this post as you did a wonderful job of taking care of YOU! Plus, I’m applauding your husband for being thoughtful, caring, and helpful. What an empowering experience! I’m applauding.

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Gwynn. It was great experience once I broke through the block 🙂 I’ve actually started editing my manuscript and it feels a major shift, so I’m really pleased. Thank you for all your warm support. Much appreciated!

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  5. Pingback: Springboards, Straightjackets, and Writing from Life | Outside of a Cat

  6. I’m looking forward to reading your story Gulara. It sounds like an important one to be told. How brave you have been this week. Now you have bared your soul to your husband and he has soothed it, it is obviously time to rally for the next charge. Well done.

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  7. What a wonderful thing for your husband to do – to take the time to carefully and thoughtfully read your manuscript – and bind it, too! That’s terrific.

    How exciting to be at this stage of the process! I want to read this book, so please hurry up and finish. 😉

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  8. Thanks for this Gulara. I like the idea of talking to your manuscript. For some reason I initially misread “I sent loving compassion to the part of myself” as sending loving compassion to your manuscript – and I think that’s an excellent idea too! As is what you did.

    We seem to have a few old friends in common – fear of failure, exposure etc. Might be best for both of us to give them love and send them on their way.

    How wonderful that your husband enjoyed your book so much. Mine rarely reads what I write, though we are having conversations about a book I’m working just now – about our second daughter’s premature birth. My father was a great help when he read my novel, he told me about parts he’d particularly enjoyed and also gave suggestions for what needed changing.

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    • Talking to my manuscript – what a great idea, Yvonne. I think once we create something, it has a life and consciousness of its own which can only benefit from loving compassion.
      It’s great that your father was such a wonderful ally to you, and your current book sounds amazing. I was induced with my son and he arrived 3 weeks earlier; although he was within the ‘term’, it felt such a huge trauma, because he wasn’t ready, my body wasn’t ready, and not-surprisingly in the end it was an emergency C-section. Your work is much needed in the world. Stories like yours can resonate with many women and help them to heal. I look forward to reading it.
      Thank you so much for commenting here.

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  9. Gulara, how very lucky you are to have a husband interested enough to just about drop everything and read your manuscript. So few family members give the author in their midst such support. I love my husband dearly, but now, 4 books later, he’s yet to read one! And he reads a book a week if not more LOL. The only member of my small family who reads my books is my younger daughter, sometimes more than once! Don’t know where I’d be without her encouragement. As for that flurry of activity you gave into, yes, you were procrastinating, letting your inner critic get the better of you…but only temporarily. You just needed time to absorb, reconsider, and gather your strength for that final stretch down the track. Now go for the gold. Thrown caution and fear to the wind. Go get what you set out to achieve. Remember, the truth will set you free. It did for me and it will for you

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    • I’m so glad your younger daughter is cheering you on, Viga, and that you are touching so many people’s lives with your amazing books. I’ve finally started the editing process and it’s going really well. I’m actually enjoying my work and it’s not as hard as I imagined. I’ll always cherish your words: The Truth will set you free. It’s my new mantra now. Many-many thanks for reposting your comment. I greatly appreciated it.

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  10. Lovely post, Gulara, and again so much resonated with me. I too, have a supportive reader in my husband and I resisted showing the whole novel to him until it was ‘finished’ … of course I’m still editing it now, after a year but that’s not the point, is it? Yes, I went through the feelings of betrayal too, and mine’s not even a memoir! Go well, your writing sings xx

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    • Thank you, Rashida, I find so much comfort in your messages. I’m glad your shared your book with your husband and that he is a supportive reader. Can’t wait to read your novel. Hope the edits are progressing well.

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  11. Yeah! I know that takes guts to show your manuscript for the first time, even if to a loved one. Great that he liked it and I’m sure that’s not just bias, you’d be able to tell and it seems to have really spurred you into a creative streak. Brilliantl!😀 Last week I showed the first chapter of my manuscript to family members and held my breath. They all loved it and are now asking to see more, a big first hurdle over I feel. Good luck with the editing etc.

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    • Thank you, Annika, for your support. Yes, it was a surprisingly big step. Just finished the third round of editing. No doubt a few more to go, but moving in the right direction. Loved your blog. I look forward to visiting regularly.

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  12. On the third edit! Well done. I haven’t got a clue how many my book will need,but reckon I better stock up on patience – hmm, not my forte but I’ll try! Thank you so much for your kind words and I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and will now as a follower see what you’re up to as you post. 😀 Great to have you as a follower.

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    • Thanks Annika, each book is different. Mine has a mind of its own 🙂 I’m waiting for some feedback on the first few chapters this week-end. I have a nagging feeling that round 4 is not that far… Thank you very much for signing up!

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