After various delays and false starts and irritating side projects to attend to, I returned to my manuscript last week. As I've suggested, I've been fighting a rising sense of panic as that day approached--believing my manuscript to lie in pieces, parts of which I knew to be good, but with lots of work to be done in lots of places and an overall logic that felt as if it were shifting and changing into something I no longer quite grasped.
But I got my ass and a chapter draft to the coffeeshop where I did most of my revising last summer (working at home is hopeless for me unless I'm reading or merely transcribing changes from longhand onto my computer). I bought my coffee and an M&M cookie, found a table ideally situated--my back to the plate-glass windows, not too close to the speakers--and spread out my materials and started reading.
I've been working on this chapter for ages, albeit with large gaps of time in between whiles, and I'd remembered it as being in decent shape but in need of a solid week or two of work. This depressed me, because the chapter after this one is truly a mess, but I felt I had to plow through this one and get it in the best possible shape before moving on.
But as I read and edited in longhand--mostly minor matters of phrasing, with a few new or substantially revised sentences here and there to clarify my argument--I had the experience that I never have.
Hey! I thought. This is fine.
It'll need work later, but it's fine to send to my mentor-type person in the fall. It's probably even fine to send to a press if anyone ever asks for the complete manuscript (once there is a complete manuscript, and a book proposal, and all that jazz). I can move on.
I doubt the rest of my revision process will be as agreeable, but for the moment I feel as though things are under control. I just need to keep getting out of the house and buying my M&M cookies and everything will be fine.