Two Mondays ago we went to our favorite island for a few days respite between finishing the revision of my novel and the arrival of Sarah, my UK editor. We had envisioned draping our crêpe on various sunbaked boulders with occasional dips in the sea. But the weather had a different plan. By the time the ferry docked an enormous wind had risen, whipping the chiffon scarf from my neck and taking it to some unknown destination. The waves in the port were impressive to say the least and we wondered if the water taxi would make it to the remote inn where we stay.
To say we experienced a joy ride would be putting it mildly. Clinging to each other and our luggage we kept our focus on the pilot’s bum-crack rather than the waves and some 10 minutes later were deposited safely in the cove where the 300 hundred stone steps awaited our wobbly sea legs.
The wind was so ferocious that the innkeepers had brought the terrace furniture inside and after lunch, rather than risk an untimely death from falling trees, we snuggled in bed for the afternoon, thinking to watch a movie on Joel’s computer. But we were disillusioned once again when the damn thing crashed and refused all attempts at resuscitation. Fortunately we had downloaded a bunch of new books onto our Kindles.
Two of our 4 days on the island were windblown and on 1 of the remaining 2 I was laid low with a stomach bug…of course, on the sunniest, calmest day of all. So the final layer of tan that I had hope would tide me over into October was not to be.
And so it goes. Two sayings come to mind: ‘You can plan but you can’t plan the outcome’ and “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I can’t but help wonder, as I write the second one if George W’s God was in a humorous mood when he told Him he planned to invade Iraq. Certainly he and Cheney would have done well to heed the first saying.
But it is I, now, who must heed the first of these sayings because my novel is now out of my hands. Sarah and I spent 4 days side by side going through the entire manuscript, making last draft adjustments and polishing that baby to a high gloss. We were encouraged by the fact that in spite of our having read the novel countless times we were still able to have a good laugh at some of the irreverent scenes. And, when we came to the end of our revision, Sarah suggested I read the last chapter out loud to her and Joel. The 3 of us were sitting upstairs in the studio and when the last words left me we all broke down crying.
What an amazing journey this had been. From its origin as a short story which I wrote in the late 90’s, to my first attempt at turning it into a millennium novel, in the early 2000’s; the subsequent 12 years that it lay buried in a drawer 3 chapters in; to last year when I opened the drawer and took it and myself seriously, the entire manuscript flying out of me in 5 months. Then followed weeks of sending it out to readers, the gathering of their feedback and then to Sarah. A gift from my dear writer friend, Susan, Sarah came into my life and into the text with grace and goodwill and extraordinary editing skills. She wielded her scalpel in light incisions until the best of what I had written lay naked on the page. I accepted at least 90% of her comments and track changes, even when it meant letting go of some of my “little darlings” – an invaluable lesson in seeing how ego gets in the way of truth.
We had worked via email for 4 months, sight unseen, until 11 September when she came in the garden gate. And then the fun began. Not only in the dotting of i’s and the crossing of t’s, but the mounting excitement we felt as we brainstormed on how to package it and me.
When the car came to take Sarah to the airport, she took my hand and held it as we walked to the gate, the way a sister or an angel would do such a thing. As if to say, I’m with you all the way.
In a few days, she will send it off to agents and who knows what will happen. We all feel extremely positive about its chances, but…its manifestation as a good read out in the world depends on much that is beyond my control. Yet I’d like to believe another of my angels, Julie, who yesterday said, “It feels inevitable.” But for now I must wait on the schedules, whims, judgments and needs of the publishing world. I’m not good at waiting. Yet, patience is something the universe seems to be offering me plenty of opportunity to practice.
In the meantime I am grateful for all that I have today. And then there is this: the work of an artist is never-ending. The day after Sarah left I began reading and revising a novel I wrote some years ago, which we think might make for a 2 book deal.
So one goes forward, in spite of the waves and the wind, because it really is about the journey and not the destination. There is, after all, only one destination for all of us, the ultimate unknown destination. Who knows, maybe my chiffon scarf is already there, waiting for me.
NB. Dear readers, I would like to ask for your help. As part of my PR package we would like to include quotes from followers of the blog. Perhaps some of you would like to share what it means to you, why and for how long you have been following it. Anything from a sentence to a paragraph would be gratefully received. You can either email me or post a comment on the blog’s website. The comment box is located at the end of each post. Our deadline is 29 September. With gratitude, as always, Maggie.