The joy of persistence

Sisyphus engaged in his unending task

Halfway through my editing odyssey, I know it’s not really Homeric, but it does feel like I shall have to begin again when I reach the end. After all, my first novelistic attempt went through seven drafts, while my second became a rather convoluted series of fragments searching for a story.

This third novel feels like a more developed story, but I’ve got caught up in a seasonal whirl that wraps into itself and pokes fun at my attempts to reconcile dates, years, lifetimes. And this is really only the second draft that’s nearing the mountain top. Already I’m anticipating the drop and then the re-engagement. And yet, and yet I have only about four more days of conscientious editing work before the manuscript, the contents of the novel, must be ready for distribution. So there is, realistically, some kind of an end in sight — that is, there’s a calendar end, whether or not I actually make it there in one piece.

Because I’ve become truculent, morose and dis-satisfied. All feels like dross and absurdity. How now can I find any joy in this exercise? It will, inevitably, have to be the joy of resolving things as best I can, within the deadline, and the devil take the consequences. Perhaps the joy will come from the relief at reaching some sort of completion. As my beloved old boss used to remark, ‘Keep on shovelling the pitchblende, Marie!’ I must grit my teeth, smile ferociously, and get back to the persistence, if only for its own sake.

I was bemused to read one of my characters complaining about her Sisyphean burden. How much of oneself, I wonder, does an author really incorporate into their characters? You can’t sit there, day after day, cranking out your thousand words and not see yourself staring back through the lines. But perhaps there’s also enlightenment, if only some sort of realisation, a kind of personal ‘ah ha!’ moment, that helps me move forward. I do feel I’ve written that moment into the text.

Just at this moment, however, I need to keep my head down, persevere, and hope the sun might be shining at the end of the journey. And that the next readers might also be kind. That smidgeon of hope is the unresolved joy that keeps me going, just now.

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