Standing Still

Sometimes it feels as if nothing is happening. The small moments fade and the epic moments are far between. But part of our
problem(—our meaning humans as a whole) is our failure to appreciate things while they’re happening. We’re always searching for the next big experience, cramming our faces with it and then, unsatisfied, moving onto the next. Certain things slow you down. In my life it’s having kids, and being a writer. There’s a lot of sitting on your butt and staring into the distance when you’re trying to write, and going for a daily hour and half walk forces me to contemplate or not think of anything much.
Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s post (dated Thursday October 1 2009 www.neilgaiman.com) I thought I’d look back over the year so far rather than craning my head to look ahead to where I hope good things are waiting.
A year ago our wishful thought of re-locating to the Nova Scotian south shore seemed improbable and absurd. There were so many things in the way. Immigration. Money. Jobs. Yanking a second-grader out of school.
We just sold our house- it took ten days in a medium-soft market, and there were all the attendant irritations but it looks like it’s finally happening. The second-grader is better about the move next summer and less inclined to run up to his room and hide under his bed. We try to drop the words ‘nice Canadians’ into most conversations.
A year ago I had not yet written Lucky although I had started to think about it. I was still struggling with the fact that no one wanted the sequel to my first book. I didn’t have a new agent and I was not thrilled with having to do the whole query letter/ submission thing again.
I wrote a wish list down on a piece of paper and burned it in the fireplace one cold January morning. That’s what we do in my family with important correspondence like notes to Santa. You wish real hard and watch the embers drift up the chimney. Works like a charm.
Anyway it was sort of a letter to myself. A proclamation of intent. Then I put it out of my mind and concentrated on other things.
I found a copy of the list recently. It said that by the end of 2009 I would have a new agent and I would have finished writing Lucky. Both of those things were actually accomplished by August.
I work well under direct orders like ‘finish a manuscript in such and such time period ‘or ‘paint the house in ten days’. It doesn’t matter that I am giving myself the order. Something makes me obey it. Perhaps I am a cyborg?
A year ago my family and extended family were healthy and they still are today, including my grandmother who will celebrate her 94th (95th?) birthday in April. I think there may have been an Italian cousin or two born as well. New bambini!
I’ve had my last summer in New York— it rained almost every day but there were two nice weeks—and I’m experiencing my last autumn- the best season on the east coast in my opinion. Golden days and chilly nights. The days feel long even though they are getting shorter.
We’ve found a cottage rental and there’s just enough room to write.
My latest resolve is to finish a rough draft of my new manuscript Fierce by the end of the year.
I’m trying to move forward while standing still.
What’s that like? A skate-boarder? A passenger? A couch potato? A flea on a dog’s back? Maybe one of those white egrets that hitch a ride on a rhino?
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