Yesterday I read The Minister’s Wife: A memoir of faith, doubt, friendship, loneliness, forgiveness and more one last time, every word, each sentence, every scene, each stumbling thought.
We are close to the end, which I suppose will be its own beginning. I asked my editor Bonne, what freedom I had at this late stage. Am I just tweaking? Can I change things yet again? She told me if I changed too much that our heads would be boiled like cabbages. This brought a clarity to my work.
During the MFA, when I was writing the foundation of what is now this book, we were told to explore “beautiful digressions.” To romp around a bit and smell the roses — and then describe them — and expand our thoughts and our words like we were stretching our arms and legs after a Saturday nap in a warm bed. I did that then.
Now though, it’s about winding things up. I had a picture in my mind — once I cleared my head of the image of my boiling head — of rolling up a ball of string, tucking in loose ends and making things neat and tidy, and tight and under control. This all felt very good. I made 26 tweaks. Which does not sound like nothing, but Bonne — whom I like to please — assured me this was entirely reasonable and that we weren’t in torture territory at all. I wonder if there ever comes a point when you read a manuscript and do not find a single thing to change? I doubt it. But this time when I sent it back I told Bonne I was done like dinner, and I think I meant it.