Write On: A GGC Memo

I have been working on The Envelope for three tedious years, trying to create something as close to perfect as possible. "Novels are never finished, they are only abandoned" and as we* close in on these last few chapter revisions, this fact seems all the more apparent.

Past relationships have suffered because of this. My first priority was to write and become a better writer, to study the masters' works and sell what I could. I had secretly convinced myself that my soul mate was a dead man with a Brooklyn accent and I surrounded myself with his books, original portraits, and collected first editions, whatever the cost. I knew that I had talent, I had the fire and I was willing to do whatever it took to watch the mother-fucker burn.

Writing is an escape, a journey some say. But writing a novel is like uprooting and moving out of state. During the years when I was hanging by a thread, the work I did on my computer kept me from losing my mind.

One of my biggest fears about becoming a mom was that I would lose my identity. Perhaps identity is the wrong word. I was afraid that I would be distracted, that my priorities would change and I would have to give up the single most important thing in my life. Some of the most well-known female writers refused to have children and maybe they were right? I was afraid that I would become less passionate, that I would wake up a housewife, clad in bonnet and apron. Barefoot in the kitchen and like every horrific motherhood-cliche. I had always been a writer if not socially or professionally, personally. What I wrote defined me. The characters I created mirrored my truths and lies, my lusts and fears. Much of the joy in my life stemmed from perfect moments with my laptop or notebook, long drives with my dictaphone. When Inspiration struck I was left ecstatic, sometimes for weeks. Working through the night to meet a self-imposed deadline was gratifying, I looked forward to all-nighters, a pot of fresh coffee and a carton of cigarettes in the freezer.

Last night I journeyed to my old watering hole, er, hot spring. I have been frequenting the place for seven years since being introduced by a very talented man who generously befriended me, supported me and told me to "get the hell out of dodge**" asap. Insomnia is like a safety, an office for people who work from home and need a change of scenery. Over the years I have met all kinds of interesting people, passing through the place, appearing in chapters disguised as characters, taking up permanent residence, fading away. Last night was the first time in well over a year that I found myself alone, working. It felt good. I enjoyed my work time and being able to focus without distraction. It is difficult to find the time in the day to write. I used to spend hours and now, minutes here and there. Archer doesn't nap yet so I type with him in my lap, mostly one-handed. Now The Envelope is almost finished and I'm trying my best to haul ass to the finish line. I'm tired. I want to work on something new. Still, I can't help but look back at all that has happened over the years while working on the MS. All of the changes that have taken place in my life and the lives of my characters. My story and theirs, on quite different paths than we set off on.

I came home to my family: my little boy, wide-awake and kicking his little legs, big-eyed and excited to see me and it felt amazing. From one world to another and I was happy to be home.

Finishing a book is a lot like birthing a child, except a child comes out of the body and creates his own story and a finished manuscript will never live up to the high standards of the author. (Unless you are James Joyce.)

I am starting to believe that the life we lead is our greatest masterpiece.

No matter what happens with the book, whether it sells or fails. Whether the next MS sells or fails. Whether anything I ever write again sells or fails, I have in my short 24 years of life created something perfect. Something so extraordinarily pristine that inspiration strikes daily. The kind of inspiration that happens during normal business hours, influenced by the miracle of a life, a soft-skinned, smiley-faced, tangible life. No more cartons of cigarettes in the freezer. No more all-night coffee/red wine binges. And that's okay. Not ALL writers have to struggle or suffer or starve. Not all writers have to live up the romantic stereotypes of chain-smoking at their desk in the rain. No more trying to categorize myself. I can be everything, a writer, a mother, a wife. It is possible to do it all, to have it all. It's even okay to want more.

Life is long...

GGC


*My charming editor, Sal and I.
**L to the A

12 comments:

Dutch | 3:58 PM

I always thought that pram in the hallway shit was a load of hooey. I started reading a biography of Lucia Joyce last year. You wouldn't believe the family shit that was going on while Finnegans Wake was being written.

Jess | 4:28 PM

i like your writing.

And your baby is possibly the cutest one i've seen in a loooong time. :)

Keep fighting the good fight.

~J

stefanierj | 5:29 PM

Two things: a. Don't know if you think Harry Potter is a load of tripe or genius (I think it's the latter, but that's me) but legend has it that JK Rowling wrote at least the first one while her kid slept in a stroller at the coffeehouse. and b. Anne Lamott is one of the best writers EVER and she wrote a whole book about being a mom (I'm sure you've read it, but if not, Operating Instructions is one of my favorite books ever). So I'd argue that not only are motherhood and writerhood not incompatible, they are quite complementary--as is evidenced in this blog!!

Keep rockin on the writin, sistah.

Wendy | 7:28 PM

This post really spoke to me. I think you perfectly describe the conflict that so many creative mommies feel, torn between being writers (artists, musicians, etc) and the demands of parenting and family and I think you are absolutely 100% correct in saying "the life we lead is our greatest masterpiece."

Amazing post, ggc...

coolbeans | 7:42 AM

This is the first thing I've read today. Gorgeousness. Thank you.

MIM | 1:13 PM

GGC, that was both beautiful and inspirational.

And you're so scaring me. Insomnia is one of my old haunts. I use to go there and write really self-important sounding prose. Then I realized my "voice" was too potty-mouthed for that. (Not to mention how just god-awful the writing was.) Maybe our paths crossed there? I was going there in 1999 and 2001.

And, did you say you're only 24? Whaaaaaaat???

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 2:53 PM

dutch- i'm reading a bio called "Married to Genius" (by: Jeffrey Meyers) about writers and their wives/husbands and there is a chapter about Nora and James. Yeah, serious family shit.

mim- yes, insomnia... been going there pretty religiously since '99. '01 I was living in London most of the year, but other than that I was around. Recall seeing a bob-haired blonde? eyebrow ring? probably overdressed? gateway laptop, red case, alone? hee.

everyone- wow. thank you all for your kinds words. i would hug you all if my arms were long enough.

xx

the weirdgirl | 7:51 PM

I'm late commenting again (mom-hood stuff got in the way, so I know you'll forgive me).

Congrats on ALMOST being at the end. It's kind of dizzying, isn't it? I know exactly how you feel; especially the part about writing in chunks of minutes instead of hours. (And everything about potentially losing identity and self-definition, too!)

So... any chance you'll release some key chapters to your Internet buddies?

MIM | 8:53 PM

Hmmmm. I think I would have remembered seeing an overdressed bob-haired blonde since I was an overdressed bob-haired brunette. Except I didn't have the eyebrow ring. ouch. Then again, I tended to keep my head down.

Freaky.

madbladder | 1:41 PM

I too often feel the same painful conflicts that you so eloquently described. And I am without a child. And I am a dude. So, I guess I don't really share your angst, but I understand it more central themes.

And I also attend Insomnia to get away. But for the sake of your work and mine, I hope we never run into each other there and we continue to press forward in our endeavors to birth our ethereal children.

BTW- Living in the ol' "Detroit St" domicile is now much more hatable now that the only cool people in the building have left. But kudos on the new "ranch."
Take care.

-The inhabitants of #102.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 6:34 PM

wow! how are you friendly neighbor? thanks for stopping by my mom-hood dot com! Tell Detroit #101 we say hello...

Binky | 8:33 PM

I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to give you the ol' "Say it, sister!" I can totally relate to your feelings about writing and motherhood. Sadly, my love of literature has not yet manifested itself in manuscript form, but that will come. I admire your prose, your dedication, and I think your kid is cute. Thanks for writing!