I was physically exhausted last night. After a short night of sleep (remember I said I only need 5-6 hours? Well, I got even less). I had a good reason. I was up rather late, writing away. Once that stream of consciousness begins, it’s hard to derail it, so I just go with the flow. And heck, what good does it do to fight it? I used to get frustrated about not yet having an entire novel, or any book for that matter, at the ready in the event that an agent, whom I’ve never met or contacted (does s/he even exist?) should call me. Right! I doubt that it ever happens that way.
Lately, however, I’ve accepted the notion that life unravels on its own terms, and that the waves of interruptions are just that – steady and certain, sure to come. Instead, I’m learning to brace myself for the detours, and “make the time” for writing, listening, and processing the vivid thoughts or metaphors that are revealed to me during the quiet and sometimes not-so-quiet, but reflective moments. Sometimes, I even “steal” the time from my task-list. I forgo the desire to respond to every phone call or solicitation to participate in every school activity, or run that additional errand. I’m learning to avoid the notion of “keeping it all together” by having every corner cleaned, load washed, and meal prepared (nutritious ones, at that). Sometimes, there’s this great tendency to keep everything straight-laced when you’re home. After all, you’d hate folks thinking that all you do is watch TV and eat Bon-Bons while you’re home. Though it can be said that I can de-compress more and probably simply choose to do nothing at times, my life hardly includes those moments.
So now, when I get the urge to engage in mindless TV viewing, including the news and silly vices like reality TV (the latest one being The Real Housewives of Atlanta), I pass it up, acknowledging that it does nothing but shrink my brain cells – fast – and choose instead to write something…anything. I tell myself that if there’s “breaking news” that is that important, I will learn of it somehow. I even relish the opportunity to edit, write Thank-You notes, editorial responses, and short letters. It gives me a chance to express myself like only writing can. At this time, there is simply nothing more urgent, and I am much more attuned to that need.
Also, I take comfort in knowing that many of my favorite authors did not have public lives as authors until they were good and grown, like me! I suppose that you haven’t lived or experienced a whole lot that anyone else wants to hear about. Probably better said is that, it isn’t until we have lived several experiences, and witnessed various defining or life-changing/ shaping moments, do we have the wisdom, words, or literary prowess to apply and communicate in a way that a reader would enjoy, and more importantly in a voice that is uniquely ours. I take courage and comfort in that. Look at J. California Cooper, for example, and the late Bebe Moore Campbell. And though Dr. Maya Angelou traveled worldwide, and had done a multiplicity of things, the world did not know of her as a novelist until she published her first novel, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings when she was 42! So I think I have a headstart, and now I have many examples of great authors (published and non-) before me. How can I go wrong? The agent will soon come – at the right time, no less – but in the meantime, just writing more will suffice.
- NY Public Library getting Maya Angelou’s papers (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The New York Public Library: Interview: How Libraries Changed Maya Angelou’s Life (huffingtonpost.com)