Write now!

I want to get back to writing my book.  Let me qualify that: I need to get back to writing my book.

My book starts as a series of journal entries (both personal and travel) and letters in 1996 and ‘97, long before I know I will write a book.

In 2001, I start writing chapters, by hand.  The chapters flesh out story snippets and descriptions of people and places.  The chapters expound on inner turmoil, extreme loneliness and a budding thirst for a less-ordinary life.

By the end of 2001, I am typing these chapters into a computer, adding more details, more perspective and more poetry to my word count.

I print out what I consider the second draft and edit onto the pages.  Like the cliché that I am, I carry dog-eared pages with me everywhere, reading and re-reading the story of me.  My book, a travel biography, begins to take shape and I move chapters, fool around with format and finally settle on a 3-part tome.

Part One. Narrative. Documenting the end of life as I know it.  My alone-ness.  My fear of drowning.  My knowledge that doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing.  Not knowing what ‘something’ to do.

Part Two. Narrative.  A journey in a wide circle.  Defeat.  Triumph.  Forging relationships.  Learning that I don’t know everything.  Learning that I know a lot.  Drinking in facts and places and more people.

Part Three.  Episodic.  The circles continue, concentric, overlapping, my life a Venn diagram.  Hating myself.  Loving myself.  Losing myself to excess and pretended celebrity.  Stillness.  Silence.  Sleep and a momentum that ultimately forces a new trajectory.

Years pass.

I occasionally dust off a printed copy.  What draft is this?  Eight?  Eleven?  I lose track.

“I am in love with this,” says a friend.  “But it should be a novel.  It should be in the third-person.”  I disagree, and re-write chapter one for the fifty-millionth time.  Each time I re-write it I love it more.

“It’s wonderful, Sweetie,” says my mother.  “She has to say that,” I think.  But she actually does love it.

I feed it in cruel increments to willing and select friends.  I want critics, not sycophants to read it.  Only that will make it better.  I write in sporadic and manic phases.  I accomplish much, then nothing for months, years.

In 2009, I sit in modest, yet well-decorated apartment in a foreign city, and I read chapter one.  “This should be a novel, in the third-person,” I think and I smile.  It has taken me years to get to this point.  I tell my friend, herself a writer, a successful one.  She is pleased.

I dig out the letters and journals from a decade before, all brought from my homeland for this very purpose, and I read.  I remember a girl I once knew, one who loved passionately and had her hopes crippled.  I think of her fondly as I might think of a distant relative I was once close to.  She saddens and angers me, yet I know I will always be protective of her.  She is, after all, me.

I return to the keyboard, and I start at the beginning, a very good place to start.

Chapter one.

I write the story of a young woman called Sarah.  She has a whole life, most of which I have yet to discover and some of which echoes my own life.  I love her, as fiercely as I love the girl in the journals and hand-written lengthy letters collected by loving parents and returned years afterwards.

I feed it to a new friend in meaty chunks.  She wants more.

It flows out of me, like a mother’s milk.  Chapter one.  Two.  Three.  Six.  And then, nothing.

Months later I return to the pages I wrote and do not recognize the words.  “Who wrote this?” I wonder and then remind myself that I did.  These words are mine.  And they are good.

Yes, I need to get back to my book.

3 thoughts on “Write now!

  • How fabulous! If you are interested in a good writers’ forum where there is a collegiate atmosphere and very little ego (and great critiques), I can recommend Litopia. Just Google it or mail me and I’ll send you an invitation. I write in isolation here in Germany and it’s been a huge learning experience for me working amongst other writers.

  • hello – this is my first ‘comment’. so i am a little nervous. maybe i should have drafted out something fisrt.

    ok here goes

    damm finn just woke up.

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