I thought I knew what I was going to write about, but as soon as I typed the first words and saw them appear onscreen in perfect synchronicity with the movement of my fingers on the keyboard, my attention took a sharp left turn. I found myself inexplicably, surprisingly fascinated by the sensation of having all my thoughts swoop out of my brain, down my arms, and into my fingertips as if the words were swishing down a slide carved out of ice. How could this possibly feel so weird? I mean, I just finished writing a book. Seeing the words inside my head immediately appear onscreen as I type should feel as mundane as buttering toast. Instead, it felt like magic.
I finished writing the bulk of the book earlier this year.
Since then, I’ve been focused on copy editing, fine tuning, and formatting. This last lap to publishing has taken longer than I’d anticipated, one of many surprises the book has had in store for me along the way. I can’t say I had a many specific expectations when I set out to write a memoir about the spiritual journey I’ve taken with my family, but I’ve still experienced one surprising twist after another, all the way up to right now.
One of them has to do with the phase I’m currently in—getting the book ready to be published. I’m getting a small quantity of hardcover editions printed independently for this first round, which won’t be sold or offered to the public. I made this choice for a number of reasons, most especially because my goal was never to write a book so it could be published and sold to the public. My goal was to write the best book I could write, and I knew this could only happen if I kept the entire process out of reach of anyone but myself, a trusted editor I hired at the outset, and a handful of readers along the way.
I know how things go—when a manuscript or proposal is presented to a potential publisher, the powers-that-be may or may not like the way a story is told even if they like the story itself, at which point a conversation begins about how the book can be revised and re-arranged to suit an editor’s vision. I understand this. Book publishers are in the business of selling books, so they want to do everything they can to reach a broad audience.
But, as I said, my goal wasn’t to write a book in order to sell it to a broad audience. I simply needed to write the book, and I needed to write it in my own way, on my own terms, in my own voice.
A friend recently asked, “What do you think about most when you envision your book being real?” My answer: “That I did what I set out to do: I wrote the best book I could write.”
Which is why I’ve been startled to observe myself dragging my feet on these final steps. I’m so close! The writing is finished! The only items remaining on my to do list are technical and organizational, and I love organizing! So what’s the problem?
There’s no problem, really. It’s just life. It’s a husband, a family, and a dog. It’s houseguests, laundry, and work. It probably also has a lot to do with my own impatience. After spending more than two years writing the book, I just want it in my hands—now. All this in-between work has felt kind of annoying and, in my irritation, I’ve put my book-related tasks on the back burner most of the time. I wrote the book, I think, Shouldn’t that be enough?
Progress has been slow but steady, and I’m having to practice patience, both with the needs of my home and family as well as my own messy, human ways. I haven’t marched boldly toward the end of this journey. I’ve shuffled along, complaining frequently. And I’ve let myself get easily distracted in an attempt to avoid thinking about all the little things that still need to be done. But today I turned another corner, which has me mapping out a timeline that ends at the actual finish line, the one that involves holding the book in my hands and giving a private reading in our home. Where the book will take me after that is anyone’s guess.
Which brings me back to my wide-eyed reaction upon seeing the words for this story pop up onscreen like tiny, obedient soldiers with perfect posture. I am surprised to discover how much I’ve missed writing. I thought it would be a long while before I’d have the inclination to dive into any new writing projects after finishing the book, but the ideas are already whispering in my ear. And the sensations of taking a thought from my mind and sending it immediately to the page have apparently been missed as well. I feel the pull of this dance—of the clickety-clack of the keyboard, and the creation of a brand new story.
About the Author: Christine Mason Miller
Christine Mason Miller is an author, artist and guide who lives in Santa Barbara, California.
You can follow her adventures at www.christinemasonmiller.com.