"And these years later, when I think of that essay, what I remember most is not the moment I saw my work in New Yorker font, not when I saw the illustration of my father, not the congratulatory phone calls and notes that followed, but that predawn morning in my bedroom, at my desk, the lights of cars below on Broadway, my computer screen glowing in the dark."
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
When I first read the above passage, it rang so true it practically deafened me. Of course, it was a timely reminder to get out of my own way (and stop anticipating who/how/whether anyone would ever read my book) and keep focusing on the writing.
But it also reminded me that whatever happened to my novel, it would never be inseparable for me from the act of writing it. Even if it is published to great acclaim, even if it wins awards (as Shapiro's work has done). To me it will always be about a first draft written after wandering home dreamily from dropping my daughter off at kindergarten. It will also be about the second draft incorporating minimal edits, written during a heatwave the month before my son was born. But mainly it will be about the third draft: the total rewrite crammed into every waking hour that was not taken up by domestic tasks and preparing for our trip to New York.
Something I've noticed since (re)submitting my manuscript: it is significant by its absence. And by that, I mean that I am noticing a lot of space in my days. Space that would have been sucked into the vortex of my novel.
In a funny way, I miss it.
But boy, am I glad to have the space. I have been positively luxuriating in that space.
And then... how quickly that space can disappear. Erased by a single thought.
A writing workshop I am attending in November spans for two weekends. For some reason, I thought it was only one. So now I notice that I have a weekend less than I thought I did, as far as preparing for the festive season (and Reverb!) goes.
I am curious about that thing that happens when spaciousness -- and the sense that I do not need to rush, that I can take my time and savour the journey, that everything will be OK -- makes way for gnawing butterflies in the solar plexus and the compulsive need to make lists.
And the thing is: I know it will all get done. It always does.
But the self-talk along the way...