It was with a sigh of relief that I packed away my solstice lights, the menorah, then dragged the Christmas tree to the curb. 2008 was an exhaustion. I lost a dear friend to cancer, battled with my own health issues, wrestled with midlife's many offerings, while one of my children was fighting through adolescence and another preparing to launch into the world. I saw my retirement fund decimated, and the ignorance and inaction of Bush’s anti-environmental pro-idiocy legacy is evident from my garden to the arctic where Sarah Palen keeps a winking eye on Russia and plans her next assault. Yes, there were good moments, and the bright star of Obama’s ascendency, but the work his disgraced predecessor leaves on all of our desks casts a shadow.
It’s 2009 and my birthday is just days away. I tell myself there is no better time than now to begin again and complete the things I’ve started. Here at my desk, my novel open before me I tell myself I’m forgiven, grant myself a special dispensation for not completing my second draft by my self-imposed deadline of December 31st. It’s a novel, I remind myself. It’s not supposed to be easy. I thought I was struggling to finish because I know what’s going to happen and the suspense is gone. I like surprising myself when I write, but I’ve already figured everyone out and I know what’s going to happen. I’ve already started sketching out a new novel--but I can’t give up yet on this one. I already have two trainer bra novels in my filing cabinet. There’s just no room for any more.
Last weekend, I participated in a video workshop along with three other writers led by Elizabeth Stark. Elizabeth talked about the novel revision process. She reminded us of the basic Buddhist teaching: “what you do is what you do.” I wrestle with decisions and choices and change. I second guess myself, reinvent, and charge off in different directions to dead ends, new characters, conflicts and possibilities. It may not be a tidy process, but it’s mine. It’s how I work. I’m still figuring out how to understand that what I do is how I write. But it’s helping, like a huge permission, that even in my circuitous, zigzag approach to life it’s all possible—this aging, these losses, this family, this life, even this novel.
I'm launched into the possibility of 2009. Hope and change, baby! So I keep writing, my pen across the paper, my fingers at the keys, exercising this gift, this experiment called writing to imagine the possibilities, create new endings and begin to discover all over again.
Causes Teresa Burns Gunther Supports
Alameda County Meals on Wheels, Union of Concerned Scientists; Planned Parenthood; ACLU, Women for Women, International; La Clinica; Kasimu Education Fund...