How the thing that scares you to death can pay off, part two

Yesterday, I printed off the first thirty-three pages of my novel for editing. I was equal parts ecstatic and terrified. And, also, weirdly emotional.

I quickly realized that I was so emotional because those thirty-odd pages are the blood, sweat, and several bucketfuls of tears I have accumulated in the past two decades. I also realized that it is only now that I am at a point where I finally feel like I can share them (hence the equal parts ecstatic and terrified).

Which has been a process I can’t even put into words. Maybe there are no words. Maybe I’ll find them eventually.

I am quite certain, though, that there are some words still to come that will surprise even myself. Ones that will be terrifying and beautiful and brilliant and downright chilling all at once.

But for now, I’m just surprised that those thirty pages came out. Period. And, yes, in their current form, the words are real and raw. They require smoothing. But that’ll come. I can’t ignore them anymore by pretending they don’t exist because they’re here, staring me in the face, unblinking. They will not be the first one to turn away. I’ll be forced to look at them, analyze them, shape them.

I’m horrified. I’m also thrilled beyond words.

The past few months I’ve had the curious sensation that I’ve been holding on (to what I’m not quite sure) for dear life. My mood has swung the full pendulum, sometimes multiple times a day. I’ve been sick. I’ve laughed till my stomach hurts. My tear ducts have felt like they’ve been sucked dry. I’ve felt emotions so visceral they can’t be described.

But, deep down, I know I’ve wanted this all along: this life. As a writer.

I’ve heard former U of W creative writing alum Katherena Vermette coin the brilliant phrase living life as if your fingernails are cut too short. (If I were Facebook friends with her, I would ask permission to paraphrase her so blatantly. Unfortunately, I’m not. I hope she doesn’t mind too much.)

That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing. I kind of love it.

I’m choosing to love it, even though sometimes it’s hell. If I’m honest, most of the time it’s hell.

And the funniest thing is, I’ve just started down this road. I don’t know if that should make me laugh or cry, or both at once.

But even if I come out of this with the shortest fingernails on the planet, I know I have to do it. It might not be fun, but it’ll be worth it. Some part of me has always known that. I’m just living it now.

But I’ll keep holding on. And maybe, just maybe, the words will save me.

In many ways, they already have.



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