Editing Journal Week Five

Carol A. Hand

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The days I work on my manuscript feel sacred to me. It’s why I can’t do anything but manuscript work for dedicated blocks of time. And that’s why I don’t force myself to edit when I’m not in the right emotional space.

When I surface momentarily from the past, I notice the beauty of nature around me with greater presence, intensity and clarity. The antithetical contrasts with prevailing current events appear sharper.

When I peruse old books I found cumbersome or uninteresting in the past, I find treasures. The power of the Ojibwe oral tradition that seemed confusingly disorganized in the past now engages my sense of curiosity and wonder in the storyteller’s art. And I realize that’s how I write now.

Stories that are spoken in the present time flow with a logic that interweaves temporal frames. A glimpse of something in the present triggers memories. Those memories need to be shared as part of the story. Otherwise, the importance of the present won’t make much sense.

I remember writing about my writer’s space a while ago. I don’t often think about the shawl my mother crocheted for me so long ago, but it’s draped on the back of the old computer chair I sit on every day when I write. Figuratively, it “watches my back,” though I almost always take its presence for granted, even when I routinely readjust the lopsided edges.


Editing in Progress & the Shawl My Mother Made


Looking at the shawl in a photo, no one would be able to guess the meaning it has for me, or for my mother or grandmother. A simple object, yes, but it carries so many stories begging to be told. It connects people – across generations – in ways that can’t be described in a logical, chronological order. Ever.

The snippets of memories that surface depend on the context, and the stories that flow from them are molded by the storyteller’s state of heart/mind and by her reasons for sharing them. Maybe some other time I’ll try to tell a few of the stories about the shawl. Today I have other work that is calling.

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