Monday, February 20, 2012

Bottle Trees, Trapped Things...and 159 Pages

I know it sounds crazy, but I am actually looking forward to editing.  Mainly, I think, because that means that the actual book is all down on paper.  I mean, sure, there will be things changed, revised, beef-up, fleshed out, switched around, cleaned up and, you know...edited.  But that means that I have gotten over the initial hump and can get to the part where I take those raw ideas and polish them up so that the reality matches (at least as closely as possible) the image in my head. 

Speaking of images in my head:  I also have a haunting picture in my head, and it has found its way (sort of) into my book.  (I know, "Surprise!" right?)  But still, having grown up close enough to the South to have actually seen several bottle trees, they do rather take root in your subconscious.  If you have not been lucky enough to see one in person, then you can check out this 1930s photograph of a bottle tree taken by Eudora Welty:

Photograph of a Bottle Tree taken by Eudora Welty, circa 1930.
Can't you just hear those trapped spirits?
So, with all these new ideas and images rattling around in my head, and since I now know how this first book will end, and I since I am so tantalizingly close to getting it all down...well, to be honest, it is SO tempting to call in sick (cough, cough) and see if I can churn it out in one day.  I think that I least I could if I would just give myself permission to sit still long enough.  My fear is that I would end up "catching up on laundry first" (you know, so I could concentrate without mom guilt), but that I would look up and realize that I wasted the entire day doing non-writerly-stuff.  So I trudge off to work and wait until sacred hour when I hole up in the corner of the break room with my notebooks and pencils and scribble away while I eat (yet another) peanut butter sandwich.

You see, there is this other part of me, a part that I hate to acknowledge, that is rather afraid of being done.  This bit of me is afraid of a time when the story is on paper, all typed up, nicely edited, read and re-read, formatted, and reach to launch.  Because then it is no longer mine; then it belongs to the world.  As writers well know, the world can be cruel; it it is our instinct to want to protect our "baby" from all that viciousness.  But the truth is that Art cannot live tucked away in the bottom drawer (or trapped on a flash drive, or hidden on your laptop), it has to be seen and breathed in and appreciated (or, perhaps just as likely, not appreciated) in order to exist.     

So, I try to squelch my fears and write on...word after word, day after day.  I alternate between exhilaration and dread...and I am okay with that.