It is late Friday night. I am driving home on the freeways and bridges that take me around San Francisco and over to the East Bay. I am tired. Physically it has been a long day. But more than this, I am tired mentally. This morning, for the first time in months, I sat down to write, to advance my book, be a writer … and I gave up.
Work is tough, plummeted by the economic downturn, but this is not the reason. I have shared with you my waves of doubts with regard to Oilspill dotcom: the title of my book, UK .v. US English, dialects etc.
There has been a burst of sunlight in this dark, cloudy week. My editor from England, Alison Walters read my blog, my frustrations and has kindly offered to help me finish the conversion from UK to US.
And now, driving home in the dark, I am listening to Writing Down the Bones, read by the author, Natalie Goldberg. Though her book galvanized me eight years ago, I am finding it tough to follow her voice reading and commentating. This is a tough judgment as I am comparing her to the actors and actresses that narrate audio books, utilizing their talents and professional experience to perfect each individual character (listen to Carrington MacDuffie reading Christopher Buckley’s Florence of Arabia – how do they not have Oscars for such performances!).
But it is tough to hear Ms. Goldberg, especially when you are tired, especially when you are cruising along the freeway. Just as I come off of the Bay Bridge, I see a mass of flashing lights: police, ambulances and tow trucks. The accident clears the tired fog from my mind and I hear a sentence from my audio book.
“Own it … and then let it go,” says Ms. Goldberg.
If I’m honest, I’m not sure what she’s actually referring to. But inside, I understand with clarity that she is talking to me. And she is telling me why I got stuck this morning; why I sat paralyzed before the computer screen.
I must let it go. I have finished.
When Alison returns my manuscript, I will accept her corrections and submit the manuscript.
Then I will move on: to the book cover, the reviews and blurbs, the plans for the launch. And I will allow myself to write again. Perhaps my next novel, Lost Heroes, perhaps something else.
But I will finish with Oilspill dotcom: cast it into the hands of the publisher. Let the manuscript become the book. I have done all I can. I own it. Now it is time to let it go.
Thank you, Natalie Goldberg.