Yeah so I finished writing my book last week. No biggie. Just eight grueling years of my life; two where I couldn’t write at all, several spent in intensive therapy, and this year, working like a woman possessed, until finally last week….I completed it. Got my first rough draft printed out and sobbed in Kinko’s when I held it in my hands. The sheer weight of it… I wrote all that? I was on a giddy high for about a half hour. I did it! I wrote a book!
Flash forward to a half hour later. Completely depressed and hand-wringing. All this work, what if nothing ever becomes of it? What if I’m not inspired to write anything more? Then what will I obsess over? Oh the misery….
For three days I couldn’t bear to look at it. It sat on my desk, taunting me as I paced circles around it. My husband said he was so proud of me, he wanted to tell everyone. NO! I shouted. Don’t tell anyone!
Uh…isn’t that the point of writing a book? So people will know about it, and uh…read it? He was right. But I couldn’t bear to let anyone know. I have no idea why.
That Monday, I vowed to face it. I would start at the beginning and read it all the way through. I took my manuscript to a café, and sat on the outdoor patio with my editing pen and a glass of Chardonnay. It felt like a very writerly thing to do. I put my reading glasses on, took a deep breath and cheerily started in on my final edits. Chapter one…
By chapter two I was convinced I’d never be a writer. I’d either have to scrap the whole thing and start over or just quit writing altogether. What was I thinking? Eight years of my life? I put my head in my hands, feeling hopeless. Then out of nowhere, a flying beetle the size of a Hummer started dive-bombing me to the point where, after ten minutes of relentless attack I had to leave the café, practically in tears. On the way out I slammed my sandaled foot into the corner of a door and was bleeding all over the place. As I limped, bleeding, into the parking lot I was hustled by a six foot two junkie that looked just like one of my brothers (who is a junkie). At this point I was so stressed I screamed BACK OFF. He actually took three giant steps backward, his hands up in the air and said “Sorry Ma’am”. Just then my phone rang. It was my kid’s summer camp calling to tell me my son was vomiting. After I got home and held my son’s head over the toilet I tossed that damn manuscript in the closet and slammed the door shut. And I haven’t let it back out yet.
Like Dr. Frankenstein, I fear the very thing I have created. I feel like it has a power of its own, like Pandora’s box, or as my husband called it, Pandora’s Book. It’s as if writing the memoir of my childhood has released all these scary ghosts. I mean think about it. My septic system backed up into my yard, crazy people started threatening my family, my kid keeps getting sick, all these issues from my past are being dug up, flying beetles attacking me. It’s almost apocalyptic! I don’t know. I’m getting a little freaked out and superstitious. I do believe that words are powerful. Powerful enough to bring a curse on me? Or am I just being neurotic? I swear I can almost hear that thing banging on the closet door, rattling the doorknob to get out.
My stomach is wretching. I grab my side and bend over. This must be what they call writer’s cramp. And then, my angel-friend Amy calls (who is a brilliant, much more experienced writer), and I tell her how insane and neurotic I am. I tell her about my crazy behavior. Is this normal, I ask?
Oh yes, she says calmly, absolutely normal. And you’ll go through it with every book you write. I sit down and exhale.
Congratulations on finishing your book, she says happily, and welcome to the writer’s life.
I slowly open the closet door….