Near the end of 2010, I was nursing a broken heart and not very well. I was also working on Elephant Girl 8-12 hours a day while sitting in a truck outside of a Starbucks parking lot and forcing myself to wear a set of blinders to shut out any distractions, doubts and practicalities that might come between me and a finished book.
I finished the first draft of EG in April, 2011. Since then:
*I’ve moved four times (and am now living in a mostly unfurnished apartment).
*Had a publishing deal fall through in the 11th hour.
*Went through the process of editing and self-publishing.
*Gone hungry. A lot.
*Re-edited book and then went on a marketing campaign.
*Had my hopes raised and then crushed. A few times.
*Nursed a sick dog back into health only to discover that she’s the best dog in the whole world.
*Found a day job similar to one I had in 1984. It’s exhausting and makes me feel my age, but it pays the rent. I’m grateful.
It’s been a year of happy accomplishments, bruising defeats, immense gratitude and total insecurity. There’ve been more near misses and almost-there’s than I can count, and not nearly enough right on the mark’s. I’ve met up with a dizzying number of people and circumstances, 97% positive, but the 3% who weren’t hit me hard and caused me to reexamine (for the thousandth time) the way I handle hurtful events. I’ve retreated, gotten enormously sad, and then tried to grow some more backbone. I still wonder why it is that pain tends to last longer than joy. I’m working on that and several other things . . . like being more practical and organized, neither of which comes naturally to me. I envy those people with Costco memberships, who never run out of essentials like toilet paper, coffee filters or Luna bars.
After a year of being on the road and then a year of writing a book, all the possessions I own can fit into the trunk of a Honda Civic. Sometimes I think my god, I’m almost 50 — I should probably have some decent clothes, a couch and some matching dinnerware — but then I remember the days I had all of that and realize I wouldn’t trade these past two years for a return to my pre-road trip life in Minnesota.
It’s just that in some ways, I feel like I have stepped back in time and it makes me feel panicky in the sense of oh no, please tell me that something I’ve done has actually made a difference and that I’m not going to end up right back to where I started. Sometimes, I am my own worst Poltergeist. I scare myself with visions of canned soup, orthopedic booties, and a worn out La-Z-Boy recliner no one else is allowed to sit in. Then, because I’m me, I obliterate that unfortunate scene with the magic of imagination. Ah, there it is — a small house by the beach, a mahogany desk, a roaring fireplace and two dogs napping on a Persian carpet.
Then, because I’m me again, I think get your head out of the clouds and for god’s sake, don’t forget to put gas in the car (again) or pick up toilet paper on the way home.
So what I’m basically saying is that I’m scared. But hopeful. Or, as Alanis sang, I’m tired but I’m working, I care but I’m restless, I’m brave but I’m chicken shit and what it all really boils down to is that no one’s got it quite all figured out just yet.
I don’t have it figured out, but it’s 7:02 a.m. and I’ve been up for a few hours after falling asleep at 6:30 last night. Warehouse work is exhausting, and now I have to go get ready for work again. I’d rather be writing — my mind is in better shape than my legs — but that’s not where it’s at right now. Maybe tomorrow it will be, but today’s all about Dr. Scholl’s shoe inserts and energy by way of caffeine.
For those of you who’ve asked about my online absence, I’m okay. I’m just in the process of trying to find my land legs after two years of floating.
I’ve got one hand in my pocket and the other is looking for an anchor.