From the outside, my life looks entirely the same as it did in January. But inside, a lot has changed. Assumptions I had about stability and the path forward have been jostled around, and the pieces are still settling into their new pattern, like the shards of sparkle inside a kaleidoscope in motion before they decide on their positions.
One thing I did is let go of something big in my writing life. I let go of my commitment to and focus on publishing a book. This was a long time coming. You see, two years ago, I signed with a fabulous agent. Then I parted ways with that agent because I realized I needed to write this book before I tried to sell it. So I wrote a memoir. The manuscript sits in a box on the floor of my office. Three dear, brilliant, loyal friends read it (you know who you are, and thank you, again). It is 350 pages long. I queried a few agents. I was rejected by all of them, mostly kindly and often using the excuse that memoir was an incredibly difficult category right now. Whether that was the truth or a gentle way to let me down, I’ll never know. What I know is I didn’t sign an agent.
And you know what? I let go. In my querying I realized I didn’t truly believe in my memoir. My story is quiet, and unremarkable, and while I think it has a universal message, I also very much doubt the validity of it to be published into a book. So I put it away.
The relief was palpable. Almost instant. When I really sat still and thought about what kind of writing I want to do, I always come back to this place. This is what I want to write. I want to blog. I have several essays I’m trying to place, so I like that kind of work, too. I am working on a novel, and I enjoy that process, mostly because I am immensely fortunate to get to do it with Dani Shapiro‘s wise and excellent instruction. But increasingly, I suspect that what I am is a blogger. I love this form, I love this community, and I am hugely enriched by the thoughtful input of those lovely spirits who read what I write here.
Once I let go of the goal I had attached myself to so ferociously, I felt both sorrow and liberation. Commingled grief and relief, as I wrote to a friend. It is hard to accept that I probably won’t publish a book. But it is also a wonder to realize that this, right here, this, that I’ve been doing for almost five years, this is the writing my heart leans towards.
Two honest and lucid posts about this very topic inspired me to put this into words: Nina Badzin’s post about how she’s not an aspiring novelist, at least for now and Erin Murray’s post that reminds me of Anne Lamott’s assertion that the writing itself is the reward. Thank you to Nina and Erin for providing much-needed companionship on an often-lonely road, and for helping me articulate something that i realized several months ago but hadn’t yet put into words.
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