Editing and Yom Kippur

I mentioned that Yom Kippur is the day of atonement in Judaism, a deeply spiritual day for Jews around the world. But at the same time it has a core of pragmatism to it because we Jews are deeply pragmatic people. When we atone, we are not just trying to “get right with God” as I’ve heard my Christian friends say, but to make things right with the people we may harm through our actions or inaction.

The High Holidays are a chance to edit our lives.

Here I think the Book of Life metaphor is a good one to reflect on for a writer. I go into Rosh Hashanah with my final draft of my year, the one I’ve labeled “Final Final Final I Mean It This Time Draft.” It’s not ready for the editor because I am never really ready. But I turn it in anyway because Rosh Hashanah, like every deadline, surprises me by how fast it comes.

The wisdom of Rosh Hashanah penetrates and it is as if the Great Editor has given me several suggestions to make my life better. I just need to turn my corrections in by Erev Yom Kippur. (Erev just means ‘the evening of.’ If Jews were Christians we’d call Christmas Eve “Erev Christmas.” Tonight is Erev Yom Kippur.) I need to fully atone and make things right with people.

Yom Kippur is the final proof, the moment the book is printed and I can only look at the errors from last year emblazoned in my personal book of life. The only way to fix them now is to print a second edition of my book, which is the upcoming year.

Up until the last few years, I’ve always preferred editing to writing. I know now that it is because my critical voice was out of control. It wanted me to write fresh copy only so that it could be torn apart and redone. This was not an effective way to write. I’m glad I finally learned how to quiet down the critical voice so that I can enjoy the writing itself.

Now I find that the writing is much more fun than the editing and I have several editing projects that are waiting for me. To everything there is a season. There is a time to write, a time to live our lives with gusto, to write our stories, and dance without worrying about what others think. And there is a time to spend in atonement, editing, and improving our lives and our art.

Tonight and tomorrow I will join my fellow Jews on this final proof copy of the year. Are there final problems I can fix? Are there edits to my life that I can take into the next year?

On Tuesday, I’ll start incorporating edits from Mia for Thule and from the publisher for Secret Project #2. To everything there is a season and this is the season of edits.

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year. May your final edits go easily, in your lives and with your books.

Be well, friends!

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