I haven’t been posting as frequently or as humorously in recent weeks. My posts have been heavy. Weighty. They’ve got chains around their wrists and cement shoes on their feet.
My sense of depth perception is off. Way off. I am lonely. I’m walking around singing All By Myself and Only the Lonely. It’s a situation I’ve imagined myself right into. I am a lonely writer high on a hill of my own creation. Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo.
It’s the book.
Who among us who dream in words hasn’t fantasized of finished sentences dancing across the page? Who among us hasn’t fetishized the notion of a room of one’s own, both brick and mortar and metaphorical? Who among us hasn’t fancied the space to write and write and write? I have that right now. I’ve got a room of my own, in every context. And it’s lonely.
If the heart is a lonely hunter, than a writer is solitary slayer..and not in a good way, like Buffy.
I am knee-deep in adjectives, mucking out the waste. I am swimming in sentences, adrift on a sea of prose. I am lost in a good, but unpublished book, hiding in the space between words, trying desperately to give each one the attention it deserves. Sounds perfect, right? Until you look at your word count and realize you still have a fifty thousand left to coddle.
When I finished the first draft of the book in January, I was 75% happy with it. I knew it needed work and flushing out and editing. I knew it needed to be re-jigged and prettified. I guess I underestimated how much more work 25% can be.
Oh, I’ve been crafty. I’ve cut and pasted. I’ve sewn and stitched up plot holes. I’ve time warped back and planted seeds that lay dormant until the last quarter of the book when they blossom into glorious flower. I’m sanding. I’m shining. I’m shoring up the foundation. I’m painting and decorating and hanging out a welcome sign.
But for what?
I have no deadline other than the one I’ve imposed on myself. As the mother of two young children who are rapidly approaching summer break, with an Easter break and numerous long weekends thrown in, I’m desperate to finish.
I fear the book may be the death of me, and yet, I live in fear that I will die before I finish the book.
I never want to write about depression again. I never want to describe the woods again. If I have to write about another layer of pine needles muffling footsteps I may just kill myself. I long to move on, and yet I know myself. I know I won’t be able to truly move on I until I finish.
If you cross an albatross with a millstone, do you get a white whale?
And for what?
My shoulder blades ache not with the imperative of wings, as one of my favorite poems promises, but from sitting hunched over a laptop. My finger tips are uncomfortably numb. My friends have stopped calling.
I have tapped into my heart song to write this story. I have mainlined my soul. I have bled ink, have tossed and turned at night trying to make sense of what to do with characters, how to make sense of it all. I have spent hours and days that could have been spent with friends, with family, in the sunshine, making sure that each sentence sings and each detail dances.
(Ok, it’s been a gray winter, so maybe not in the sunshine, but still!)
And for what?
I have no guarantee. There is no one waiting to publish this book with a beautiful cover and a nice marketing campaign behind it. Is it enough, will it be enough to have completed it when it is done? Will having written it be reward in itself?
My gauges are off. I’m in too deep. I am a lonely hunter, unsure if the stalking and the hiding and the hard to remove camouflage makeup will pay off in the end.
High on the hill was a lonely writer.
Lay ee odl lay ee odl-oo.