Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Breaching the Wall

This past weekend was the 2010 SDSU Writer's Conference. It's basically a chance to spent a boatload of money to sit indoors, hear conflicting information about vital one-shot things like pitches and queries, and breathlessly throw out what you hope are key details about your project to any agent willing to listen.


I went into the weekend in a foul mood. The days leading up seemed to be a train wreck of kids not sleeping, colds, house inspections, etc. I found myself on Thursday afternoon making homemade pasta sauce (must. use. up. frozen. tomatoes), washing dishes and doing laundry, cleaning bathrooms and building a train out of Legos. Did I mention I was also recovering from pneumonia? Yeah, really, like heavy duty antibiotic pneumonia. After trying to eat--did I mention that the heavy duty antibiotic absolutely killed my appetite?--and getting the kids in bed, I started working on that manuscript that I promised myself would be complete by the conference. At 2am, I finally finished.

I also hit a wall. It's been a year since I published this essay, almost a year since I started writing a novel that would resurrect my life as a writer. And I did it. I squeezed every last drop of time I could with energy I didn't know I had, and I produced something of which I'm very proud. Not only that, but I felt connected with my writer self, fired up in a way that I honestly have never felt. And at 2am, it hit me: this is how it gets done. By staying up late, by squeezing hard, by somehow dividing my single self into two. They're full time jobs--parenting and writing--and I've done them fully. At the same time. And insanity ensued!

Okay, not insanity. But I hit that wall and thought: I am tired. I do not want to do this any more. Granted, the pneumonia didn't help. But I was tired of feeling like I had too much to do and not enough time. I was tired of not enjoying a moment's of rest. I was tired of cramming so much into that little hour I had so that I was cranky on either end. I was tired of doing all this for something that I didn't have to do. Why not just one job at a time?

But I'm on a roll. I've ignited something within myself that is difficult to ignore, and almost impossible to walk away from. Will it be there if I wait? Oh sure, probably. But do I want to wait, with two manuscripts now? I've made it so far--super-humanly far--that I'm torn between wanting to be realistic, and wanting not to give up on myself.

So I found a door. I guess that's what you do when you have a wall. I went to bed and I went to the conference and I groped along all those little chinks in the brick before me until I found a way to get through. It was tough--overwhelming, tear-inducing--trying to push myself forward in the midst of so much conflicting information. But I reached the other side with enough brain power left to assimilate most of what I learned and put it to good use.

That's where I am now. Not a good place, maybe, but it's less pneumonia-ish, and there's no wall. Just more rocky path, hard hills, long distance. Everyone has a journey. I've come to know this as mine.

1 comment:

melissa said...

I will be a cheerleader on the side of the road!

Wait, that sounds kind of problematic. I don't mean like a hitchhiking cheerleader, I mean like a helpful... oh, nevermind.

Go Diana! You are superhuman, indeed.