Tomorrow Isn’t Promised

I’ve mentioned on this blog that I’m more than a bit obsessed with Hamilton: An American Musical. Like the good fangirl I am, I watched as many news programs and interviews as possible where its creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, talked about the show and his creative process.

In an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, Mr. Miranda noted that Alexander Hamilton had an attitude toward life that Mr. Miranda shares. To paraphrase him, their mantra is: “Tomorrow isn’t promised, so I have to do as much today as I can.” Miranda also noted that he and Hamilton shared a fear of dying young and without having accomplished what they wanted.

That idea that tomorrow isn’t promised resonated with me. And I can also relate to their fear of not accomplishing a goal.

Hearing Lin-Manuel articulate that fear–during a year in which his show is the hardest-to-get ticket on Broadway, he was named a MacArthur Fellow, won a Grammy, is expected to win the Pulitzer for drama on Monday, and will probably win one or more Tony Awards in June–stunned me. He’s clearly not leaving any opportunity unexplored.

And that list of things he’s accomplished with Hamilton doesn’t include writing songs for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the animated film Moana (soon to be released by Disney).

But what have I done since his show rocked my world last fall? We bought a house and moved from Brooklyn, but that’s my only accomplishment in the past five months. My romance manuscript still needs extensive rewriting. The first draft of my thriller is maybe a quarter written. I haven’t updated this blog or crafted any new short fiction (aside from yesterday’s flash-fiction post) in too long.

For me, the hardest part of writing is the revision process. I love creating first drafts. That’s my playtime. Coming up with new characters, thinking of challenges to throw in their paths, and trying to find a way out of the morass for those characters, that’s just fun. It’s creative and imaginative, and I love that part of the process.

But revising what I created is a grind. Learning to recognize my own bad writing habits, noticing where I’m inconsistent with a character’s behaviors, and figuring out how to fix all the book’s flaws takes practice and patience. The latter isn’t one of my strong suits. I’m learning to be more patient as I get older, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.

My screensaver reminds me of Miranda’s quote each day. Today, I finally heeded its advice. I spent some time reading my romance and adding to the long list of revisions it needs. I’ve been battling with this list since September, and I still have 62 pages of the manuscript to read through and make notes for. But I’m getting closer.

And yes, I will still need to make all those changes in the actual manuscript. But my list often includes new blocks of text I’d rather use, so I hope that will make fixing that rough draft easier.

My goal for finishing my notes is the end of April. My goal for implementing all those changes is Labor Day weekend. I’d like to be able to look for beta readers at that point and get their suggestions on further revisions. I’d love to have the manuscript ready for submission by the new year.

Tomorrow isn’t promised, and I don’t want to throw away my shot.

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