kaizen

The last revision of So Much Closer has been submitted to my editor. Woot! Although technically, it’s not the absolute last revision. It was me responding to my editor’s line edit. The next step is copyediting, in which I scrutinize every bit of the manuscript even more. Then the first pass is printed to see how the book layout will look. That’s when we check for any remaining typos. If I want to make additional changes at that point I have to have a really good reason, so hopefully I’ve already made all of my changes.

Not like that ever happens. I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to read my own books after they’re published. I only do it once to check for typos in the finished hardcover editions, but reading that one time is excruciating. Almost every page has things I desperately want to change. Seriously, it’s like nails on the blackboard. And that’s after reading drafts of the manuscript over and over during the revision process. That’s why I don’t think a book is ever completely done, even when it is. It’s also why I’ve put off reading Waiting for You until now. I really should have read it over a year ago to check for typos before the paperback was printed. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

This whole checking for typos thing isn’t required. It’s something I force myself to do because I hate when I’m reading a book and there’s a big fat typo glaring up at me. Most books I’ve read have contained one or two typos. Which is so frustrating! Because I know how many times that manuscript was read by the author and editors and copyeditors and a bunch of other people. It’s amazing how much we miss even after reading something ten times.

I know. I’m obsessive. The Japanese have this term called kaizen. It means ‘the continuous search for perfection.’ It’s a relief to know that kaizen is a thing. Now instead of being an obsessive freak, I can just be into kaizen.

Sometimes it’s best to just kick back and let life happen. That’s what I did last night. The 4th of July usually involves me running around Manhattan searching for the perfect view of the fireworks. But last night I was feeling post-revision exhaustion and it was too hot to run around. And guess what? I had an awesome view of the fireworks right from my window! It was unreal! Yay that the fireworks were over the Hudson River again this year. The best part was seeing my fave fireworks again. I have special love for the smiley faces and peace signs. Seeing them for a few seconds was like a sweet reunion with an old friend.

The fireworks made me think of that scene in Something Like Fate where Lani and Jason watch the fireworks and then stay really late. That whole scene was inspired by an actual 4th of July. When I was 17, my Gram drove my boyfriend and me to this park that had fireworks. She told us where she’d be waiting after. When the fireworks were over, we just stayed. Even though I knew Gram was waiting, even though I felt crazy guilty, we stayed for a while. Because that was one of the best experiences I’d ever had. It was so amazing to be out on that warm night with the first boy I loved, just lying on my blanket and watching the sky. Even though we were at this park in the suburbs near where my Gram lived, I could feel city energy, something that had been speaking to me ever since I started watching David Letterman when I was 12. I grew up in the country where nothing ever happened. Getting to go to a place where stuff was happening was beyond exciting.

I still feel bad that we were late to meet Gram. But I think that’s all part of kaizen. We can’t change the things we regret, but we can learn from our regrets and make better choices next time. Our choices shape our lives.

One choice I’ve made today is to minimize outdoor time. Oh yeah, we’re having a heat wave! It’s the extra fun kind that just keeps getting hotter and more humid as the week rolls on. My plan is to get lots of work done and think cool thoughts. If you’re also feeling the heat, please remember to take it easy. That’s what summer’s all about, after all.