It felt good to burn all those old pages. The fire is still warm and it doesn’t crackel, just a very low crisp hum. Like a few bees buzzing among the embers. Bees don’t belong in embers with ash, but those pages did.
I spent about three hours this evening organizing the last half of the book into the binder. I found chapters still out of sequence and had to place them within the notebook at the approximate place where they will end up. I took my edits and added them to the final print out. I three holed punched over 120 pages to get them into proper order and then I sat back and felt great.
It has been a long time coming, getting the second half of the book combined with the first. I only have this year to get this novel done. No more messing around and it felt like I was a bride or something again when I threw the pages into the flames. A new start, a new beginning. There have been a slew of new beginnings but perhaps one not as kind on my psyche as this one.
There was the new beginning when I burned the pages of my first novel, the one I guess I wrote to learn how to write a book. I’ve learned now that every writer has a least one novel in the drawer. That time by the backyard firplace and myself and my friend Maria and my sister Becky screaming like banshees while we burned all of the notes and the edits and the re edits and the final edits that still weren’t good enough. I still have a copy of that book and the writings stinks. I say that now. I can be cocky right now while I sit inside and listen to the wind whip around the lodge pole pine trees. I can be cocky when I am a few years down the road and that night on the top of Independence pass just outside Aspen when I stopped the car and sobbed because my novel was shit. Pure suckmo shit.
I was told that at a seminar that I took my book to. My words were eaten alive by the other members of the group and I held my chin high and didn’t let the tears come until I was alone, On top of the world and the starlight stung my eyes and I told myself I would do another book. So what, if that one was bad. I would listen to what they told me and I would learn more and I would continue to write.What I know now is that the whole room full of them were right. The book was crap but I did not let that stop me. I am still here and I am still writing.
So tonight I burn sheets again, but this time my ragdoll cat Echo grooms himself on the big over stuffed chair at my left. My feet are covered with those little brown ugly socks that they give you in the hospital, a reminder of Dan’s blown up appendix this summer and how the pus invaded his body and how I stood next to the bed in intensive care and how his mind rambeled and how his heart rate was mixed and sometimes muted and for my moutain climbing buddy of a husband that was the worst for me.
The fire is almost out now and I turned off the music to the radio and here about 7 miles from the continental divide I consider my writing life. I only write part time, gainfully employed on the other side, and there is a real sense of determination that I will pull off this book. No matter what I can’t fail. How can one fail if they do the best job possible and continue to learn. All I can say is how good I feel inside, like a warm orange is inside my belly and there is this sweet taste that runs up into my mouth. So I have the book together now and all I have to do is fix the entire thing to the end.
It is not such a daunting task but it will take me many months.I am determined to complete the novel. Just determind to get all the twists and turns into their proper places and build the tension and keep the tension and stick in the comic relief where I need it and gads all I want to do is just revel that I am this far. I am not done, not done by a long shot but damn and double damn I am here now and I have just burned the bad sections of the entire book. I have ripped and shedded all three hundred some pages and come up with the chapters that sing and need work. I got rid of all the capters that didn’t talk to me The ramblings of my mad mind, the times I kept on writing “I don’t know what to say” and “I don’t know what to say” and then boom something hit and I was off or I thought I was off. Whatever I was writing again and with a cup of Earl Grey with honey next to me I was fine.
I’d like to have a glass of wine and cellebrate. Celebrate that I am this far and I will continue to write under all circumstances. I know I have a long road ahead of me but I also know it isn’t as long as it was.
My employee Amy bought me Barack Obama’s book ’ The Audacity of Hope’for me for Christams. It sits on the coffee table in front of me. It sits on top of my Kabbalah Month by Month book and there is a wild wind outside the windows of my home. If a black man with a mixed heritage can perhaps make it to the white house, I too have a chance to become the novelist that I know I am inside. I too can pull in the Audacity of hope and move forward with courage.
My fingers slide on the black keys. My voice doesn’t speak. My inhale and my exhale are like every other inhale and exhale of my body. A familiar bond with the breath. As familiar as my heartbeat. I’m captured right now in a human body and it feels just right.
I wiggle my toes in those crazy socks. I feel beautiful and content and burning my old work that has taken me to this sweet place. Fire destroys but it cleanses too. All those cofused and unusable words are ash now and the fire is quiet and I hear the sound of the Seth THomas clock as it ticks out the remainder of this evening.
I can hear Natalie’s voice in our writing seminars. Continue under all circumstances, Continue under all circumstances and I have and I will continue to work on this novel. I must complete this book in 2007.