Bella walks me almost every single day. She’s fairly diligent about it, though sometimes she forgets and I have to whine at her–jostle the leash in her face or coax her out of bed with something sweet, like my all-encompassing love. Yeah, and when that doesn’t work, I move on to more effective methods, specifically this fail-proof tactic, which is to position myself as close as possible without actually touching her, at which point I proceed to breathe, and stare, blinking as little as possible, and pushing the train of my thought into her brain until I have succeeding in wrecking all semblance of peace and focus. Works like a charm.
Once we’re out, once we’re moving, we’re happy about it; the sun on our faces, the breeze in our hairs, the raucous yet harmonic symphonies as we stroll beneath the trees. It’s good for us. We are such homebodies, she and I, with dispositions that tend toward reclusive behavior. No, no. I wouldn’t call us hermits. Hermit-ish? Perhaps. A bit. But don’t worry, we go out all the time: when there’s no more milk, when the house needs fumigating, during earthquakes. See, we’ve totally got this handled.
So Bella was walking me the other day, and while she stopped to perfume my neighbor’s lawn, I was noticing a bush, on which a single rose was in its final stages life. For those of you who don’t reside in the states, over here we’re knee-deep in winter. Everywhere things are dead or dying. It’s hard to watch. I’m walking around with a palm pressed to my face, peering through fingers two and three, wincing at every turn. They’ve come up with a fancy name for this–seasonal depression, I think it is. But I’m pretty certain I don’t have that. For one, they say it starts and ends at the same time every year, whereas my depression is spotty, inconsistently regular, really more of an annual thing. I mean . . . I’m a writer.
So I’m standing there, gazing at this moribund little bloom, trying not to well up. By now Bella’s looking at me like, “Mom, pull yourself together. It’s o-kay. It’s isn’t in pain or anything.” And I’m all, “I know, I know, it’s just so . . . sad.” And so she looks at it, cocks her absurdly adorable head, replies, “No, Mom. Not really. This is just what happens. Things have to die so they can be born again fresh and new.” And that’s when I was like *poof*.
Because–with Bella’s guidance and sage observation–I realized I am that dehydrated rose at the end of its cycle. Once a piercing, vivid scarlet, but today, remorsefully, leached of its color, making its slow descent back into the earth from whence it came. I have reached the point of no return. The problem is I keep TRYING TO RETURN. If I were a Jedi, maybe it would work. Sadly, tragically, I am not.
To make a long story short, my second book was done. Like done done. I finished it over a year ago. It had been edited and beta-read and all that jazz; I was simply waiting for a few final pages of edits, typos and grammatical what-have-you, and then we would publish. Easy peasy, right?
Normally my husband is the one to make changes in my WIPs, and there are good reasons for this. Are you listening, Cara? GOOD REASONS. Because I am a smart girl but also a ninny, I decided to work on it myself. After all, it was only a few edits. Rather than explain how it all went down, I’ve decided to show you.
An open, editable document is a highly dangerous thing. It is the writer’s siren, singing an irresistible song. It was only supposed to take a couple weeks. It was only supposed to be a few key scenes. It was just going to be minor edits.
Only, only, only, only, only, just, just, just, just, just.
Just and only–they are snipers; be vigilant.
In conclusion, I got stuck; and for three months now I’ve been editing and rewriting, every day, anywhere from 7 to 9 hours a day. This might not have been the horrible decision it absolutely-definitely was–because I truly enjoy the polishing aspect of writing books–if not for the fact that I had already begun outlining New Book, hatching plans and ideas I was extremely excited about. Yet, I knew Old Book could be better, and therefore I had to try. Except I couldn’t and it killed me. It was like trying to break a coconut with a clothespin; I couldn’t get in. My mind, for what it was worth, was there with the Old Book, while my heart remained dreaming about the story–back there–taking its first beautiful breaths. And I was missing it, because I was stuck with Old Book. So I became resentful, which was all sorts of lovely and perfect, because everyone just adores a novel written by a fatigued, resentful writer, said not a single person in all of existence.
It got so bad, even texts wearied me. I began doing something that, as a lover of language and proprietor of vocabulary, I swore I would never do. BRB. IDK. C u soon. L8r. It was scary times.
I don’t know you, not personally, and while we may look quite a bit different on the outside, on the inside it’s all pretty much the same stuff. Which means if I’m struggling, then you must be, too. I’m so sorry about that. I know how heavy it is, and I so wish I could take it from you, just for a few moments, give you a chance to catch your breath. Normally this is where I would engulf you in my arms. I’m a hugger; like, slather-my-body-against-yours and commence-side-to-side-rocking kind of hugger. I hate that I can’t do this; however, I refuse to let something so trivial as the spacetime continuum deprive us a hug. So, here. Just for now.
Maybe, like me, you are feeling wilted and dry. Maybe, like me, you have convinced yourself that stepping away is the same as failing. It isn’t. What you need is a time-out. It is not punishment, it is grace. It is a pause button. If there is no one in your life to do this for you, then consider that person me: I am pausing you.
You have been paused. You can come back anytime you like, an hour from now or in three months, but however long you decide to pause, you need to be real and honest with yourself about when you’re really ready to come back. No one else can tell you; no one else has a say. Only you. In the meantime, you are to do other things–think of it as a loose pause. You’re not frozen, you’re simply spliced, allowing you to put with one thing on hold while pursuing other things. It’s our make-believe, we can do what we want with it. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as they are activities that nourish your heart, soothe your soul. It’s works. It’s working for me. While I am paused, I am taking naps and extended walks with Bella, having coffee with friends. I’m also drawing. Who knew!
I thought about writing captions for each one, but to tell you the truth, I’ve grown weary. Even this blog was probably a little too much for me at this point. I’m already four days into this post, which means by now it’s lost all novelty and I’m convinced the whole thing is one giant crapsicle. I’m highly temped to trash it and just post pictures, but I’m not going to; because if even one of you is helped by some of the things I had to say, then the strife will have been totally worth it.
However, since I basically hijacked this drawing from another artist, I feel it merits a wee caption. This girl, “Avery,” a piece by Kelli Murray, an artist I absolutely adore, was the first thing I ever drew.
Perhaps it’s not what we see, but what we make of what we see that determines what is created.
Bella and I walk the same route everyday, and every time we passed that decrepit rose, I had to look away, because one of two things was going to happen: I would start to blubber, because I can’t help but see the deeper meaning in everything. The other thing, well, it was a bit, shall we say . . . illegal. I thought about leaving my house sometime in the night, taking with me a pair of shears. *snip* Luckily I was spared from having to trespass and commit lawful rose-slaughter; the other day while Bella and I were on our walk, we saw that finally it had died. Thank GOD.
Speaking of Bella, the whole dying so we can become born again fresh and new–yep, that was a true story. All that genius came out of my Chihuahua’s teeny tiny cumquat brain. Shocking? Meh, not really. Bigger isn’t always better. Certainly not where pimples and hemorrhoids are involved. Amen? People often tell me Bella bears a striking resemblance to Yoda. And you know what, I don’t disagree. No. In fact, every day I’m becoming more confident one of his descendants is living in my house.
may The Force of my love be with you,
Hey! If you’re on Instagram, I would love, love, love to connect with you. We can commiserate about art and life, how one is always imitating the other, and exchange more of those virtual hugs. I’m not yet sure what these will look and feel like, but we’ll figure it out! @theycallhercara