I spent this week packing boxes as tight as I could get them with every item I owned that I still cared about and then my husband and I stuffed those boxes into storage containers to ship to Nashville. Tomorrow, we will get up early and drive east into the sun.
I look at my house now, clean and bare, with only a few things left that are going in the car with me, (cat included) and I cannot believe the velocity at which this has happened. Of course, we planned it this way. We got up every day this week and worked until sun down packing things away. We threw a going away party. I put in notice at work and quit my job. Earlier this year, my husband and I stood in our kitchen making an agreement that come August, we would make the move. Years ago, we meandered through pouring rain at the Texas State Fair discussing how we loved Texas and yet how we knew we would need to leave it.
I remember that evening clearly because even at the time, I knew we were talking about something inevitable. Even then, us unmarried, having no savings to speak of, no plans past what we would do that next day — I knew we had just written something in stone.
And now here I write — sitting in the library because there is nowhere to sit in our house save for a little camp chair strewn around the middle of our empty living room.
The move was an inevitability, something I didn’t even need to analyze past planning for the months, the weeks, the days leading up to our exit. Every day, I stared down a mountain of work and feeling and fear and now, everything done and only one thing left to do, I find myself utterly ready, wondering who it was that must have done all that hard work. Thank god for that other me. Her sacrifice was too kind.
This is how it feels to be writing a novel. This, really, it how it feels to be writing.
It is so much, when you think of it — isn’t it? I am going to write a book. A whole book! All the hundreds of pages, all the thousands of words. All the planning and outlining and discovering who is who and what the motivations are. And of course, what worked last week will likely not work next week or even tomorrow. The wiliness of the story; here today, gone tomorrow. Four times in my first draft, I threw everything out and started over, often after having spent months and tens of thousands of words worth of time.
It is quite a thing to think about; and really, you shouldn’t think too much about it. No use focusing on what was when there are things to be done today. Because while six months ago, I was mired in a particular hell of a writing retreat gone south, and I’m not sure the word count I added earlier today will have any bearing in reality later on — two years ago I had nothing. Correction: I had one idea that hinged on one memory that had no characters, motivation, or plot to speak of. But outside of the possibly forgettable words I wrote this morning, today I have a draft and a plan.
That I will write this book is an inevitability. And so is the fact that I will write the next one and the next one and the next one. The next story and the next poem. That I will look back years from now and marvel at how far I’ve come even as today I look back and still marvel at the length of my path, the miles under my boots.
To be overwhelmed when writing is an understatement. But you must resist becoming mired. You are not the words you wrote today or the frustrating setback you might experience tomorrow. Rather, you are each day — the scene, the chapter, the decisions, one after another. You are simultaneously the kernel of a dream and the daily toil. You are the product of your own determination.
As for me now, I will settle into my lonesome camp chair in the middle of our empty house, and I will read a book, and we will bide our time until we wake up tomorrow, drive ourselves to Nashville and the germ of the moment I pictured years ago, standing out in that rain, will come to fruition as I drive, mile after mile, down that solitary road.
You’re welcome to visit any time.