I’ve been working hard on my book lately. It’s mostly written (except for the last ten years of my life), which means I’m editing. Editing means reading my book over, and over, and over again, because editing happens in layers, I’m discovering. You go through the book once to catch one kind of mistake, then you go through it again to catch another kind of mistake. So on and so forth.
I’m sure that with some other kinds of books, this merely gets tedious and boring after a while. With mine, it’s really stressful sometimes, on an emotional level. I’m writing about things in my life that made me very sad, or angry, or frightened. Having to read them over and over again is taxing, to say the very least. Some things that I’ve been able to distance myself from over the years are much closer to the surface, now that I’m exposed to them so much more often. I’m feeling things I haven’t felt in a long time, all over again. Unpleasant things.
These feelings bubble over into my everyday life. I’m crankier than normal, I feel, and need less stimulation. Conversely, I’m appreciating parts of my current life more. The difference between this life and that life are even more stark. I’m aware of how my daughter’s life differs from my own as I was growing up. My biggest worries with her are that she’s too materialistic and needs some direction, which seem pretty normal for a kid under ten. I don’t worry about her needing years of therapy, or being saddled with severe personality complexes that hamper her personal relationships and ability to function in the world. Like me. I do worry about her developing bipolar illness, which seems to run in the family, but at least we know it might be coming, and forewarned is forearmed.
I have many hopes and fears attached to this project. Like any writer, I have that tiny nugget of hope that this will be successful enough to garner a spot on the featured shelves of popular bookstores. Perhaps even a coveted spot in the New York Times bestseller lists (hey, a girl can dream, right?). I know the reality will probably be more subdued, though, that my readership will probably extend to my circle of friends and not much farther, if at all. I may even have to self-publish through Amazon or some other venue, if a publisher doesn’t decide to pick up my manuscript.
I admit, I’ll be very disappointed if I can’t even get a publisher to consider printing my book. I really do think it has that much merit. Someone recently asked me why I was writing my memoir. I didn’t have an immediate answer for them. I think I started writing it just to get it all out of my head. I had this jumble of bad memories, interspersed with the occasional good one, and I wanted to put it all down, in order, in part to see if it really was all that bad. To see if, perhaps, I was ignoring the good. I wasn’t. It really was that bad. It was an extremely valuable exercise to validate my memories and did a great deal for my confidence.
Then I wanted to share it, though I couldn’t say exactly why. Part of it was attention, I won’t lie. I think all humans want attention for the things they’ve accomplished. Most people accomplish things like degrees, or mastery of a craft or art, perhaps. I accomplished the feat of surviving my childhood, something that took far longer than any college degree. And yes, dammit, I want acknowledgement for that, because it was fucking hard. In acknowledging the hard, I found another reason for writing and sharing my story, which is best illustrated by sharing the last paragraph of my book’s introduction:
There is a Sanskrit word, bodhicitta, that means “enlightenment”, or “awakening”. It is the primary goal of one called bodhisattva: someone who wants to achieve Buddhahood as quickly as possible, so they may benefit other living beings through compassion and wisdom. That is my wish with this book, for others to benefit as I make my own journey to enlightenment, as well as healing. If even one reader can stumble across their own bit of illumination that makes something make sense enough to propel them forward, then we will all be one step closer to peace.
While I feel pompous comparing myself to a bodhisattva, that’s how I feel. So, yes, this book is for me, but it’s also for everyone else who needs inspiration to move forward with their life if they’re feeling like they’re stuck in the path that was carved for them. It’s possible to get out of the rut, and to carve a new one. It’s hard, harder than staying where you are, but it can be done, and it’s far more rewarding than staying where you are.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more ‘be’ verbs to turn into action verbs.