Posts Tagged ‘craft’

You Did The Thing

February 4, 2014

My friend said tonight over a hot cup of lemon ginger tea.

“That’s the thing, you did it,” he continued, “I haven’t done this, how many people have?”

He was referring to my book, Baby Girl.

He surprised me by pulling the printed manuscript, bound and collated, out of his messenger bag.

There it was, my book, here it is, my book.

It’s sitting on the floor to the left of my “writing desk” while I write this.

“You have something,” he said, “you got to do a lot of work to get it to stand on its own, you might just have to junk the whole thing, but there is something there.”

But the best was hearing, “you are such a better writer, you have come so far with the writing, it’s really obvious that you wrote this a long time ago.”

I did, indeed write it a long time ago.

I started the manuscript in an orange 5 subject notebook 8 years ago this month.

I finished it three months after starting it.

I let it sit for about six months then took it to second draft.

Then I left it alone for a while.

Never printed it off, just had the original manuscript and the “second draft” which was really just me typing almost literally word for word the work from notebook into my ancient PC.

I mean ancient, this thing was so old, running Windows that was registered to DeForest High School, I still don’t know how my friend managed to pull it off my computer when it looked like the thing was finally about to die.

But she did.

And the book lived on.

I re-wrote another draft of it a year or so later.

Somewhere in my head I got the idea that I was a great and capable writer and that I just needed to get this book published and the world would bow and scrape at my feet, throwing money and applause to me while the champagne swirled and the caviar glinted.

I mean I have not an idea why I did that to myself except, perhaps to help manufacture a great deal of misery when those things did not happen and the work just languished and sat and mouldered in a drawer.

“She went to Paris to work on her memoirs,” he said to his friends in front of the Cole Street Cafe as I was walking by with the boys in the double stroller.

“How amazing is that?” He said and his friends looked at me goggle eyed.

Yes.

I did.

And see me back here in San Francisco just doing the nanny thing again.

But you know that nanny thing it gives me the kind of job that I don’t have to take home with me. ┬áIt gives me some mental freedom and some space to write, much more so than when I worked in the service industry and thought, you know I’ll write before work.

I was too busy before work sleeping it off from the night before to write.

I did manage a little when I first moved to San Francisco.

I can compile some things I wrote, I won’t get rid of them as they are part of who I am and my experience, but I am, as my friend noted, a much better writer now.

I would not change a thing of the way it all has happened.

Not going to Paris.

Not taking years and years for the manuscript to evolve.

Or devolve.

“You might want to scrap the whole thing and start with a blank page,” he said, “you know, re-write it completely from scratch and see what happens.”

What he means is ignore the draft that I have saved to this computer and to my blog and to my Gmail account and start over from beginning the way that I write now.

Can I do that?

Sure, why the fuck not?

He also suggested that I sit down and read it straight through, I have not done that with a bound copy of the work.

The feed back he gave me was absolute gold.

I have a new idea how to frame the story.

I need to start with the end rather than end with the start.

I need to do a lot of work.

And will it be worth it?

Duh.

I did the thing.

I wrote the book.

Now.

I have to keep writing the book.

Maybe it will be done when I am 95 years old and I will still be talking about that damn book I started working on in my early thirties.

But so be it.

I have a purpose.

I mean I have a primary purpose and I attend to that every day, but I also have a purpose as an artist who predominately creates through her words.

I have an art.

I have a craft.

I have something to sustain me and something that I get to learn from and grow from.

I am excited to have this opportunity.

The best things take time.

They take re-working, you don’t just go in and become a virtuoso over night.

At least I don’t.

I have been practising my craft now for a few years.

I have the time, day and night, devoted to it.

Most times, I admit, I am not thinking that I do this to get better, I am thinking I do this because I can’t not do it, I am compelled and in the compulsion is the subsuming of who I am.

I become something more than just the characters shaping themselves on the screen or to the page.

I become more myself every time I write.

More concise.

More alert.

More aware.

More allowed to be authentic in my person and to sustain this amazing life that I have been granted.

“That is so white trash, I can hardly stand it,” my friend laughed shaking his head, after I told him some of the stories that happened directly after the story arc of the first work.

It was.

I was.

Yet.

I grew and became something more.

“Wait, wait a second, I think I have a picture of him somewhere,” I said and disappeared into the garage to find my old photo album.

I did not find that photo I must have it stashed elsewhere (and I just remembered where!), but I did have a photo of me from not too long after the events in the book take place.

“You look exactly alike and yet, totally different,” he said looking from the photo of me at 20 to the reality of me at 41.

I am exactly alike.

And totally different.

I did the thing.

I am going to continue doing the thing.

Because I deserve all the things.

And this is a part of my journey to get there.

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