Photo: It was hot here earlier this week, so I had to do some grilling. Gotta love the cedar plank and the go-to favorite of salmon. If you’ve still got some warm days left in your neck of the woods, you can totally do this.
I don’t know if I told you, but I wrote chapter one of Silverwood last week and then transcribed it on Monday. Friends who have been monitoring my progress through my summer class and planning have been asking me all week how I’ve been doing. I’ve been proud to say that I got things started, that chapter one is in the books and I need to scoot it over to my story coach when she gets back from traveling. On Sunday, I had the pleasure of hosting my living, breathing muse for dinner, and I discussed my work with him and my husband. My muse, a dear friend, hadn’t realized that I compose my fiction longhand. I was like, why do you think I’m such a notebook fiend?
He and The Husband, lovingly, jokingly, but with an undercurrent of seriousness, gave me a hard time. “Do you want to ever finish?” They asked me.
I don’t mean to brag, but I can type like the wind. As fast as I can think. I can type one-handed faster than some can type with two. I can read a piece of paper and type out the words at about the speed that I can read it. I can take dictation as fast as a person can speak. My type game is like whoa. The only person I know who can beat me is a former co-worker of mine. Still hurts my ego! I’ll have my revenge some day!
But there is something about fiction. I can’t compose fiction by typing it. I relish the tactile nature of the pencil in my hand, gliding across the paper. I explained to the two men in my life, who sorta gave me side-eye for my preposterous inefficiency, that part of the joy of writing in the novel in the first place comes from the sensation of the actual writing itself. I love the sound of the lead scratching across the paper. I even love the snap it makes when it breaks and the sharp curse I always give immediately after. I love the movement of the paper as I turn the page, the smear of gray that covers the page over time as my wrist moves across it and the lead dust settles… but most importantly, my brain wants to be fully connected to the tangible experience of the creation. Just as my brain works best when I’m cooking, or when I’m knitting or embroidering.
They asked me if I wanted joy or if I wanted to be published.
I’d love to be published, I said. It’s true. The more that I think about it, the more that I want it, the harder I work for it. So many of you Dear Readers have been with me since I stupidly told myself I’d be published by my 30th birthday. Thank God I didn’t succeed–I’m a million times better now than I was back then. The discipline and diligence have really paid off. I’m much closer to earning my goal. I think these supportive men feel the same way. Thus, the push to finally cross the finish line.
I said I’d type out Chapter Two on the computer. Surely I could will myself to form a new, more efficient habit.
You know exactly what happened, of course. Monday and Tuesday went by without a single word written. Not a one. The muse is fickle, I suppose–my internal as well as my external! I went to the beach on Wednesday with my notebook and the flood gates opened. The chapter isn’t anywhere close to finished tonight, but I’m not blocked, and that feels like a miracle.
My Quiet Thoughts are about the seemingly simple, almost cliche lesson that keeps coming ’round and around. I have found a love for the process. Seriously. I write for the love of it. I love the way it makes me feel. And it might take me forever to write this novel. But it won’t be written any other way. The process matters. There is so much in this world that requires time, technique and patience. If I try to rush it, I’ll simply fail.
Patience is not my virtue. It has never, ever been. I guess that is why it’s so fitting that the things I love the most require it above all else: embroidery, knitting, bread baking, noveling… each of them require so much patience. And then there is motherhood–Lord, motherhood is the ultimate test.
And so, onward I trudge. Only on chapter two. But I’m proud of what I’ve done and where I’m going. I’m proud of this world I’ve worked so hard to build. I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you, Dear Reader. Someday. Sooner rather than later.
It is a blessedly cool night in Massachusetts. The humidity is gone. The heat is, too. Lion Scouts are hanging out downstairs while I hide out in the master bedroom, waiting for the meeting to disperse. There is no such thing as quiet when a bunch of young boys descend on your house. But there is a lot of joy here. I can’t help but wonder, with a bit of bitterness after a hard week, how many of these young boys will grow up to be men who burn jerseys and throw temper tantrums because people are exercising their right to free speech? It was a hard week to be a Black person in America this week, Dear Reader. I listened to a man on the radio openly question if Black people are “really” American. He had a moment when he also questioned if Black people are human. It hurts the soul. It makes me so tired.
On a night where the joyful play of children is set to a background of chirping crickets, I have wishes for you, Dear Reader. I wish you a moment of seeing and being seen. To have a moment of observing the simple and beautiful humanity of another person this weekend. I wish you the grace of seeing a person fully and wholly (if not holy), and giving other people the opportunity to see you the same way. So, just as last week, I wish you the opportunity to stun and awe with your presence. To be in a room, to be boldly present and unapologetically you. I wish you a project this weekend–something you have to do with your hands and connect your creative brain to your fingers. A doodle, a painting, something sewn. Maybe some handmade cards that have sewn on embellishments? I’d love to see what you do, Dear Reader! I wish you a little time to be away, under a tree, observing the color and the change in the air. Then I wish you company, loving and supportive, full of thoughtfulness and laughter. Hold a person’s hand, whisper something sweet in a person’s ear, gift a little of yourself and see what might happen this weekend, Dear Reader. I’ll bet, if you put your mind to it, you could capture someone’s imagination simply by the power of your intentional gaze and the curl of your lips. Good luck, my Dear Reader! Good luck!
You are loved, of course. I tell you every week. Don’t forget to shine brightly this weekend and don’t forget to remind others to do the same. Ours is the future. Keep fighting for it.
Until Monday, sleep, sing, dance, laugh, cook, read, speak up, and take care.