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some things you do for money, and some you do for love love love

September 27, 2011

Caution: Feelings ahead

Around 9am yesterday, I wrote the last word of my first book.

This has sort of happened before, but not really. I’ve been writing this book for three years, and I’ve “finished” it twice before. That is to say, I wrote a chapter, didn’t know what to do after that, wrote “the end” on the bottom of the page, and called it a novel. Yesterday was different.

I’ve been setting deadlines since I started writing. My newest one was October 6. But then I started writing when I got up on Sunday and found I couldn’t stop. This is never a bad thing. I’ve always said that I write because I can’t not write – and when it’s good, it’s really good. I finally stopped a few hours after sunrise, and I did so because there was nothing left to say. Then I fell on the floor and cried until I laughed.

This book has gone through a partial rewrite, and at least five titles. It has two narrators, and it reeks of being 22 and not having a clue what you’re doing. In a lot of ways, that’s what it’s about. It’s about not knowing exactly what you’re doing, but going forward anyway until you eventually get to the other side. It took three years because sometimes, that’s how long it takes to get there.

This was kind of what I intended it to be – but there were a few surprises. I started writing it for National Novel Writing Month in 2008, which was a pretty big year. I had finished college, started working, moved to New York and had one relationship explode and another implode. I was lonely, didn’t feel connected to anything, and I missed how sure I had once been about everything. I wallowed for a while, then I ran around being a crazy person, and then I finally sat down to figure it out. To do that, I did what I’ve always done: I started writing.

I never wanted to write a book about falling in love, but that’s eventually what happened. It’s a book about finding your way, but it’s also about love and loss and learning when to let go. It’s about loving yourself enough to let go, and learning that following your gut is what will lead you through the dark.

I have plenty more theories about timing, and about lessons and growing up, but for now, I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. Everyone who listened to me talk about it: who nodded as I stumbled through plotlines and got tongue tied and blushed and said, “it might be stupid.” Everyone who let me say: “well, actually, I’m writing a book.” (Thank you, because saying it out loud helped make it real.) Thank you to the music I listened to when I needed something to talk me through at 4am. Thank you to my roommate, who staged dramatic readings with me instead of going to bed. To my friends and my family, who genuinely want to read it and see it get published. And to my mom, who found it open on the computer one day after I decided I should give up on it two years ago and called me to say, “I’m sorry I read it, but I just couldn’t stop.” (And who has subsequently called many times saying “Did you finish it yet? Finish it, finish it, FINISH IT.”)

…I finished it. It needs work (maybe a lot of it), but it has an ending. And it’ll get there. We will get there.

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