Friday, April 08, 2005

Eight Steps

I'm feeling a certain ennui since "finishing" the book. Everyone always compares finishing a novel to giving birth. I've done both, and let me tell you, they are two very different things.

I think of the days after letting the book go more like the grieving process:

1) Denial/Shock: It's done?! It can't be done. How did I manage to do this?
2) Anger: Four years of graduate school, student loans that could have bought me a brand new Lexus, and instead all I get is this?
3) Bargaining: If this one gets picked by Oprah, I'll never cuss, drink, scream at my kids again.
4) Guilt: I really suck. There are much better writers out there.
5) Depression: I really, really suck. There are much, much better writers out there.
6) Loneliness: So I choose to spend most of my time alone manufacturing make-believe people living in make-believe places. What kind of loser am I?
7) Acceptance: Well, this is what I do. Maybe they'll like it, maybe they won't. Doesn't matter.
8) Hope: Maybe they'll like it...maybe they'll really, really like it??

I think the last dud of a novel (the one I spent nearly a year of my life writing) has really shattered me for this one. I am second-guessing almost every word. Every punctuation mark. Since the manuscript made it's cyber journey northward to New York, I have felt nothing even remotely akin to relief or excitement. Just anxiety. Sheer fear. Nevermind the coincidental and ironic recent e-mail onslaught from readers who want to know when the next book is coming out. How do you say that it may not? That there may never, ever, ever be a publishable book again?

On a lighter note: we took the girls to see Debbie Allen's "Dancing in the Wings" (based on the children's book) at The Kennedy Center last night. My eyes and throat swelled up with joy at the ants dancing ( a sort of drumline dance of about fifty kids dressed up like ants). The strangest things are moving me lately (did I mention the pile of blue glass on the street the other day? the man sitting in a kitchen chair in front of his row house on 15th St., listening to jazz on a portable record player?).

At least it's spring. Kicky plucked three brilliant dandelions from the yard yesterday.

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