At the end of the summer, after going through all the comments from the latest round of readers of the book I'm currently writing, I initially thought, "I got this." Thinking I was within mere inches of completing the book, I touched based with my editor and confidently declared she could expect my next - and final - draft by the end of September. This editor isn't connected to a publisher - she is a friend who happens to do this kind of work as a freelancer, and she's been with me from the first day of this journey. Being able to work out plans for the two of us to bring the book to completion was no small matter; it was a meaningful step in an endeavor with many important milestones. When we worked out the next round of deadlines, I was thrilled.
Who was it that said that when you want to make God laugh, you tell Him your plans?
And now I wonder: If I'm to consider the last draft of my book as merely its bones, am I now adding the real meat to them or are they being ground to dust and consumed by an entirely different book that has been waiting to emerge? It actually feels more like the latter, like I'm gnawing and chomping and crushing everything I've put on paper because it's the only thing capable of feeding the book within me and bringing it to life.
So be it. Grind it to dust I will.
As I feel the stories emerge in their fullest form, I care less and less about anything related to publishing. As I become more and more obsessed with writing the best book I can possibly write, I find myself unearthing all the most magnificent, heartbreaking, embarrassing memories. I'm amazed by what I've left out so far and astounded by all the ways I've steered my stories away from their most visceral, most potent details.
It isn't that I've been doing a bad job, and it isn't that there won't be anything left from the last draft to the one I'm working on now. It is as if I've been working diligently inside a house - going room to room, working with the tools that are in each one, carefully arranging the stories each of them holds - but then suddenly I found a hidden door that led to a room I didn't know was there. And that room is full - packed with boxes and bags and plastic tubs filled with all the pieces of my book that have been missing. These aren't holiday decorations - meant to add a temporary sparkle and sheen to my stories - these are the tattered doll clothes, the warped record albums, the pieces of a rusty jungle gym. They are letters yellowed from age, an empty bottle of perfume. They are the meat, the marrow and the skin. They are the only way I'll ever be able to utter a single true sentence.
And so I go - submerging myself even deeper into the stories I'm trying to tell, laughing, and crying, as I drown.