The Boat

cabin4It is raining and I have been in my writer’s cottage all day, listening to the rain on the shingled roof, and writing. Well, not writing, so much as revisiting stuff already written. I’ve sent out a poetry submission (that makes 11 total so far this month), and I’ve been working on a cover letter and a novel synopsis to send to a new agent. (Scary, that.)

I’ve also been thinking about writing a blog post about how I work…and dragging my feet.

I have not been blogging much lately, to be honest, because I feel as though the chirpy persona I generally adopt here is not true, at least not lately. Part of my problem is my angst about my mom and about my 16 year old — no way to dodge those. But I have finally realized that another part of it is exactly what I describe above — this process of sending out work, to total strangers. I’ve worked on my novel for 10 years…or 13…on and off…and I haven’t sent out poems in five years. I promised myself, all summer I promised myself, that September would be the month for moving on.

Yes, I get a little bump of energy when I hit “submit” for the poems each day, but first I have to fight through a great deal of inertia, about five years of inertia, to be accurate. I have to look at poems that have been abandoned for long time. I have to renew my relationship with them somehow (typing, writing notes, retyping, thinking). It drains me. Every afternoon it’s a complete toss up whether to go back to bed or to the gym (this week, the gym has been winning, which is probably another thing helping me to dig my way out of this hole).

The gym helps, and I’ve had some helpful conversations with friends, too. On Tuesday, I was able to talk with a friend who is in the process of self-publishing his book. I love that he is doing this — finally someone I have helped is getting to the publication stage (!); also, it’s a book that one-hundred per cent deserves to be out in the world where readers can find it and enjoy it. (Some day soon I’ll have more information for you.)

The book begins with my friend’s grandson asking him what that thing is, hanging up under the roofbeams of the garage. It’s a boat, or what could become a boat, an abandoned start of a boat from 30 years earlier. The book is about taking it down and finishing it. 

Literally then, and not just figuratively, it was a project that had been hanging over my friend’s head for 30 years. (What’s
not to love about this story?)

It doesn’t matter how long it will take. Your work hangs over your head, too, and it is weighing you down. If you will just get it down on the ground, then you can look at it. If you will just pick up your tools and do a tiny amount of work, you will feel better. No doubt you’ll have moments when you wish you could burn the whole thing, or just walk away, but if you keep tinkering, productively, getting a little bit down (and sending a little bit out into the world), I promise you it will begin to make you feel lighter and lighter and lighter.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes for me.

5 replies
  1. Carolynne Harris
    Carolynne Harris says:

    -Amen- to your friend and the boat and grandson, and being able to pick up an unfinished task. Amen to you for being honest and saying you re-visited some of your old writings. I started doing that and time “flew” and I thought maybe I was a better writer then. And you are correct 100% – it all haunts me all that stuff. Thank you.


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