Tomorrow, we go to the beach. I am, as Alan Greenspan used to say, irrationally exuberant. We’ve been going to this beach since I was in the eleventh grade. That’s a long time. My daddy introduced us to the beach—he vacationed nearby when he was a kid. The beach, for me, was emblematic of a new state of being that began in junior high when Daddy and Mother married. We now lived in Daddy’s beloved state of North Carolina, and I was delighted to be part of the type of family that went on vacations and walked to the store for popsicles and slid on rubber rafts on waves. Last year, a week after the beach trip, Daddy died. This will be our first beach week without him present in this world. I should be sad. But I am, again, exuberant.
As is my want, I’ve tried to figure out why. Why does the beach this year call to me so strongly with its heavy sand and bright beach towels and endless hours of reading? The discovery of the latest games, the lure of the restaurant on the bay, the jaunt to the end of the island to see how far the ocean has encroached since last viewed? Why?
For the last eighteen months I’ve been revising, reworking, re-visioning a novel, trying to respond to the suggestions/directions of an agent and an editor. The process was good for the manuscript. It was tough on me. I don’t work well with piecemeal instruction, yet that was the avenue required. I ranted, I raved. I pulled at my hair. I argued (with myself) and I wrote, wrote, wrote, wrote, wrote and wrote. The novel is now in the hands of interested agents, being read.
During the same eighteen-month period, I’ve been shaping six years worth of selected weekly writings from the Door of Hope writing group into a cohesive book. The task was daunting; at one point I thought, I cannot do this—it’s too much material, too disparate, too confusing. I had exactly the environment I desired—all of it in front of me at once—and I felt as if I were drowning. I crawled ashore, and the book Writing Our Way Home: A Group Journey Out of Homelessness will release the middle of next month.
Until I wrote this post, I hadn’t realized I’d been at these tasks exactly simultaneously. Both were voluntary. No one said I had to publish a novel. If I hadn’t taken on editing the writing group’s journey out of homelessness, someone else might have. I chose to do both of these things, and yet they were hard. Now both are almost at a point of stasis.
I can go the beach.
I can relax.
I can read in the shade and walk in the sun and kneel in the sand and thank Daddy for all the happiness he brought into my life.
I am beyond thrilled. I’m exuberant, and with good cause.
here’s to creative synthesis . . .