#amwriting: Yesterday at about four o’clock, I read the last sentence of what I think is the final draft of my memoir-in-progress, Bless the Birds. Okay, final except for the subtitle, and that I’m still tinkering with.
“Done” is a relative term in writing. When I say, “I’m done with it,” I mean that I think I’ve taken this version as far as I can. It’s not just that it’s worn me out, which it has; it’s that I can’t see anything else that needs work.
Right now. In two months, I might see it differently. In two years, I certainly would. Any good story is as organic and of-the-moment as its creator. Our understanding of writing and what we have to say changes over time (if it doesn’t, we likely have nothing new to say).
How do I know I’m done? It’s an intuition when I read through the manuscript, a sense that I’ve said all I have to say about this particular narrative.
Could I be missing something? Absolutely. If so, I can’t hear it right now. Of course, I’ve thought I was done before. It feels different this time, exactly how, I can’t explain.
I’m letting the manuscript sit until tomorrow. Then I’ll send it off to my agent with fingers and toes crossed.
Sometime in the next month or so, I’ll hear what she thinks. If she deems it ready to shop around to publishers, I’ll have prep work to do, including coming up with a kick-ass bio and a list of my books and recent publications. Which won’t be as impressive as it might be because of the time away to journey with Richard’s brain cancer, but that’s life.
For now, I’m done. And that feels deeply satisfying.
To give you a taste, here’s how the story begins:
On my desk where my eyes stray to it whenever I look up from my computer sits a square of foil wrapper that once held a bite-sized chunk of dark chocolate. The creases have been carefully smoothed so it lays precisely flat. The outside is red and printed with the logo of a chocolate maker. The inside contains just three words: “Love every moment.”
Perhaps a chocolate wrapper with a saying that could be trite seems like a foolish thing to keep on the desk of a working writer. As with so many of the things we carry through our lives though, this piece of printed aluminum foil means much more to me than just a used candy wrapper. The hands that smoothed out its creases were long-fingered and strong, with a sculptor’s love of stone, steel and wood….
And here’s the very end:
Richard and I didn’t love every moment, because we weren’t perfect. We did do our best to embrace the journey life gave us. And to live with love, which I think is the greatest gift we humans have to offer this battered world. Love asks us to lead with our hearts, to accept flaws and hardships as openly as joys and triumphs, and to be true to ourselves as we navigate the cycles of our seasons. Love is like the blessed wine that continually refills our glass: the more we give, the more there is to receive. Without an abiding love for this existence, ourselves and each other, we merely survive. With love, we and all others thrive.
When my time comes, what remains of Richard and
Ime will go into the earth together, companions still in this journey through the circles of life on this glorious blue planet. Home.