I just finished proofreading the latest draft of my book. I'd originally thought I would write about these things I wanted to tackle as non-fiction, but I later decided fictionalizing it would give me the freedom to cover some things in a better way.
And I was right.
It allowed me to step outside of chronology and other constraints and to explore characters in ways I might not have otherwise been able to do. Where one person in the book would be tied to a real person in my life, the characters could become amalgamous renditions of conversations and experiences. I wasn't hamstrung by reality and found that I could be even more frank and honest than I'd originally thought possible.
There are a lot of things in this piece that are real. There are a lot that aren't. I wrote a lot about what I knew and a little bit about what I didn't. I turned it over to the inner circle for feedback and comment, which has so far been overwhelmingly positive. Yes, these are people who know me well, but they also know I want their honest opinions. I feel confident that I will get real, barely-tempered reaction from them. That's why I chose the readers I did for this phase of the project.
What I also found was that I was pleased with what I've written. Even though I see details and edits and things I want to change, I am happy with this work. I can look at it and say, "It's good." It was scary as hell at first, when I started to mark up my printed copy. All of my niggling fears of not being good enough, or feeling like I had no right to write, all came rushing to the forefront of my mind. My heart pounded, and I cried, thinking I was stupid to have ever thought I could do this.
But as I calmed that and looked further, I found the energy and found the truth behind those words. I found the places where my characters could say the things that I may have been afraid to say, both to others and to myself.
I have no delusions that I've written the Great American Novel. As much as I would love for this to be a smash hit when it's published (hopefully by the end of the summer), I know the statistical chances of that are pretty slim. That's scary, and it's the kind of challenge that might have historically been so daunting that I backed down from it, in fear and apprehension that I couldn't succeed, that I would make a fool of myself if I carried through.
And it's not that the trepidation is gone; it's just that I know I can do this. And I want to do this. Maybe for the first time in my life, it's a challenge that doesn't bore me, that excites me, that I can't wait to see through to the end. It's not to prove a point to me or to anyone else. It's just because it is. It exists, and it deserves the chance to fly on its own, even if no one else ever sees that graceful flutter.
So, it's coming. Persona Non Grata will be here very, very soon. There's still a lot of work to do, and I'm ready, methodically plodding through each step, trying carefully not to miss anything.
And when it's done, I'm off and on to my next project. I already know what it will be, though I'm holding back my own thoughts about it. I can't start to focus on what's coming next until I can finish what's before me now. I'm being careful to stay in this moment without worrying about the next. I know there's something around the bend; I just can't look at it until I see every inch of this part of my path.
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