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  • Writer's pictureMaan Gabriel

Write With Your Heart. Edit Like a Bitch.

My debut, After Perfect, is coming out in the Fall of 2021. To say that I’m excited is an understatement – I’m beyond ecstatic and over the moon. This is one of my impossible dreams fulfilled. I’ve worked on this book for over four years and I did it as a form of healing as I go through menopause. As my doctor said, fate cheated on me because I was only 39 when I started going through the changes in my body, which rocked my mental and emotional state. Writing helped me navigate this very unsettling phase. The joy of being a woman, am I right? And yet, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

After Perfect is my paranoia at its worst. I had to put my fears into writing to establish some

thing tangible that I can relate to.  My marriage was not on the rocks, far from it, but it was out of fear of losing the love of my life that drove me to write everything down. The what ifs.

And so, I asked myself. How do I steer this fear?

I wrote with my heart. I wrote with my soul. I wrote with all of me. I purged myself of all my fears by putting them to paper. I let my heart speak, I let it scream from the very depths of its core, and I let it embrace its fears so it can let them all go. 

As a first timer, I didn’t know the rules and techniques of fiction writing. Add to that, English is not my first language and so I had to be extremely watchful about my grammar use. These two things combined were massive obstacles to write freely.  But I did it anyway because my heart yearned to be heard.   

I wrote with no rules.

Two years into writing, I started attending writing conferences and began reaching out to writers’ groups. The reviews I received were upsetting and pitiful so I initiated my search for an editor. The ones I picked out from social media were all ready to take my money, the ones referred by friends didn’t take me. Again, it was a painful and devastating blow. At one point, I was about ready to give up.  Even family were skeptical about this bold endeavor and suggested that the best I can do to get this off my chest was to self-publish. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against self-publishing but I needed validation before I could even think about doing all these on my own. The rules and logistics of self-publishing are not for the faint of heart either so I commend self-published authors. You guys are the real deals to have the courage and the will to learn the specifics of this very intricate industry. 

Finally, I decided to step away from my story and revised it as a reader. That took another two whole years. 

Did the first chapter shake me? Did it grab my attention? As a writer, of course it did because it was my heart speaking. But as a reader, I had to painfully admit that I didn’t quite understand what it was trying to convey. I had to edit like a bitch. I tightened my prose and deleted unnecessary overflow. I had to kill my darlings as they say in the editing world – a painful process in which you have to discard your personal favorite and self-indulgent passages to make your literary work better.  These are truths a writer should embrace.  

I love writing introspections. It’s the whole point why I started writing in the first place. And oh, believe me, those beautiful words that describe my innermost thoughts and feelings are my gold - but not necessarily to the readers, unfortunately. They need to see how your story advances, how your characters grow, and how you describe the five senses to make sure you take your readers on a journey by showing them every step and not just tell them what happened. From my tiny experience in writing fiction, I try to show my readers the scenes that got me into writing the story in the first place – what got my heart beating, what made me cry, and what I want my heroine to achieve. 

I also taught myself to stop being overly sensitive and value my critique partners and beta readers’ opinions. They are there to make sure to point out what we have missed. As a writer, it’s easy for us to get lost in our emotions and so it’s critical that we have cohorts to remind us of the many ways to improve our story, and with that our writing. You don’t need to take them all, but it’s good to see how readers react to your words. 

Learning doesn’t end for us writers after the first published work. I may have gained a wealth of knowledge on my first attempt at fiction writing, but it doesn’t stop here. Every project is a step toward greatness. As long as we’re open to criticisms, acknowledge our weaknesses and highlight our strengths, continue to learn and understand the skills to get better – I think we’ll be just fine. 

To dream is free - how to achieve it requires massive amount of hard work and dedication.

Four years ago, I started writing a book that didn’t have a direction – all it had was heart. In the Fall 2021, that eighty-five-thousand group of words will be introduced to the world – and yes, I’m beyond ecstatic and over the moon.

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