Forget what I freaking said in my last rant of The Book is Almost Out. When I wrote, “I don’t want people reading about my life,” it was well, a truth and not a truth at the same time. Anyone who has put together a paragraph (or struggled to) will look at their work and think, “This is the stupidest thing ever put to paper.” Then the next day you’ll hear from the same person, “You know, I think I’m really on to something and I think people could really enjoy (learn, laugh, cry over) it.”
Never listen to a writer in the middle of a project. They are total flip-outs without an ounce of objectivity of the value of their own work. They’re busy emptying their heart and brain from the privacy of personal demons. It’s often when my little friend/non-friend, Irma, is her most vicious. “Good lord,” she says so stridently I scratch my ear, “can’t you even get this one thought out on paper in a beautiful way? Does everything have to sound like you’d be better at washing dishes?”
“Shut up,” I say, but enough of Irma.
Down the writing road, sometimes months or years later, after enough revisions that like Bernard Malamud wrote, “most of the dross is out of it,” there is finally a time when a writer is finished.
With my two fiction books I felt happy and a bit pleased with myself for finishing something I was reasonably proud of. With the how to write book I felt accomplished. With “Blossoms of the Lower Branches, A Hero’s Journey Through Grief,” that is about to come out, I’ve felt fear. Fear for a lot of reasons, but today I’ll only write about No One Will Read It.
What if I had invited twenty people for dinner? Time would be spent considering menus, decorations, maybe topics of conversation. I would clean the house, plan traffic flow, linens, dishes, drinks. I usually dream about these things, make planning adjustments, on and on. Then what if the day of the event the most liked and politically powerful in the group of my expected guests called me and said, “You know, Rebecca, you’re an okay party giver, but something else has come up, and well, the group has decided to go to another event. Maybe next time. Bye.”
You’ve got to give a little empathy don’t you, when all that time and effort is spent and a better party redirects the guests? That is the cost of writing. Irma lets me imagine even the best and most popular authors experience it in some degree when a new book comes out and reviewers have their fun with it.
Years, even decades, can go into writing a book, but that doesn’t matter. Similar to being a surgeon, no patient is guaranteed to live through an operation. And no book is guaranteed to have readers after the last word is written.