Today, as I pull out my hair and gnash my teeth trying to get through some mind-scrunching edits on my book when I really should be in the kitchen baking two pies for tomorrow and definitely shouldn’t be blogging at all, I offer you only a modest gift. But isn’t it a lovely one?
“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.” – Arthur Miller
The question is, which will be the right regret? The unfinished essay or the unbaked pie? Guess I’ll find out tomorrow.
Happy Turkey Day!
It’s the strangest sensation.
Driving home, my brain was short circuiting. I have every reason to think that this is actually happening, after so many years of it not happening. I am going to publish a book. And yet…that moment is not quite here, not just yet. When does one actually bust out the champagne? When the book goes off to the printer? When it’s released? At the launch party? When it’s positively reviewed? Sells well? When the next book deal comes?
I said to my mother, “I just realized that there will never be one final moment of victory. Just incremental triumph.”
“Like life?” she said.
Which reminded me of a message a friend sent me a few weeks ago responding to this blog. Here’s part of it:
The way I look at it is that women are ready to bloom at any moment. We are not the annual flower that blooms once in a lifetime, whose beauty is awed but is fleeting and temporary. We are perennials – ready to bloom over and over with the proper amount of care (love, sun, etc!). It is the person who thinks they have bloomed once and it is over who begins to molder. Sometimes we are dormant, but the bloom is always in there waiting for the proper care to bloom again.
Now is a perfectly appropriate time for the champagne. Ahead lies more uncertainty and certainly more work, but it’s too easy to skip the small triumphs while waiting for the big ones. I’ve done enough of that in the last nine years. There is always something to celebrate, and I intend to start toasting. Care to join me?
Thanks to Jennifer for the comments.
Imagine a dark and blustery night, a room cast with shadows. A writer polishes her working manuscript. The publisher has asked to see what she has so far. (Plot Twist). She adds fancy words, changes the formatting, calls on the universe for extra powerful positive thinking. The wind blows like a demon out her office windows. Will this be the realization of a ten-year dream? Or just another disappointment? Zap – she hits the send button on Halloween night (well, not exactly. Three days later. But it makes a better story this way).
Then she waits.
The publisher receives the manuscript and reads 50 pages within 36 hours. He emails the writer, responding with words so enthusiastic some are unfit for print. He loves it. Really loves it. He fell in love with the character, her growth and setbacks and little triumphs. Thinks maybe his press can’t do this book justice.
It is the email she’s waited a decade to receive.
But she doesn’t receive it. Unbeknownst to her, it languishes in her junk mail alongside a sales pitch for Discovery Toys. She doesn’t want any Discovery Toys. She does desperately want a book published. She waits, biting her nails, cursing every doctor who never gave her xanax. Would the publisher have responded by now? Maybe not. Maybe she’s a terrible writer. Maybe he hates her. Maybe the universe hates her. Maybe she should sell Discovery Toys.
The publisher waits.
The email waits.
The wind blows.
Finally, six days later, before she’s had her first cup of coffee on a Tuesday morning, she opens her junk email box. What is this? Could it be? Such amazing things said? About her work? But the date—last Wednesday? Dear God, no! The horror, the horror! Do emails expire? Has he changed his mind? Has he decided she’s ungrateful, crazy, delirious on xanax? She emails him back immediately.
Shouldn’t she be celebrating? Not yet. Not until the junk mail universe has righted itself. Blasted junk mail universe! She spins in anxiety. She neglects her children. She forgets to take the trash out. She drinks just the tiniest bit of vodka.
Finally, the publisher emails her back. He wondered why she hadn’t responded. He hasn’t changed his mind. They have a lot to talk about. He’ll see her next week.
Stay Tuned for A Terrifying Tale of Gut Wrenching Distress!: Getting What You’ve Always Wanted
I got the completely wrong college degrees. I’ve never been bothered by this. At least I have some college degrees. And their wrongness is an accurate reflection of my nature (blooming ev-en-tu-al-ly). I didn’t know and/or embrace what I wanted out of life early on.
Who cares, because I got what I wanted in the long run—a self-made, totally authentic writing career. People pay me to write. Sometimes. That supercedes all ill-conceived college degrees, right?
Yes. Until recently. Feeling the need for something new, something less speculative, something to prepare me for the not-so-far-off future when I’ll need medical benefits, I recently looked into teaching writing at the local community college.
And learned that, two college degrees and ten years of professional writing aside, I am not qualified to teach even pre-college level writing. To do so, I would need a MA in English. (Not even an MFA in writing, incidentally, which I think says something about the controversy around MFAs in writing. Someday I’ll blog about that).
It’s the first time I’ve regretted my academic past, or rather regretted that I wasn’t more directed in my academic past. No point to this regret, naturally—it won’t change anything. And in the big picture, I believe you can’t be where you aren’t yet. In 1996 when I started down the road of MS in Natural Resource Education, I wasn’t a writer yet.
But the question remains—what now? Do I live with my inapt resume, or correct it by getting another master’s degree? Hmmm. We are education junkies in my family. But yikes almighty, back to school? (The third option is to write a mega best-selling novel, which would pay for those medical benefits.)
By the way, I took a teeny tiny job as a writing tutor at the community college instead. Apparently, I am qualified to do that. Next post: Blooming is reacquainted with comma splices, run-ons and fragments.