I just now, moments ago, finished the first draft of the last chapter of my book-length memoir. I am alone in my basement, full of joy and excitement and wonder, but I am not alone, because I know that the readers of this blog are with me.
I still have a ways to go on this journey. My work-in-progress–or WIP as I’ve learned writers like to say–is a chronicle of my six-week journey across the United States, in which I pursued creativity and, instead, it found me. That trip led me to start on the path of an art-committed life, one I’ve maintained for a bit more than two years now. In fact, I started this blog shortly after returning from that trip. My first post is dated October 23, 2010 and, appropriately, is titled “Starting Down the Road.” It begins, “You’ve stumbled across a project of self-indulgence.”
And so you have. But you’ve also joined me on this road. Together we have explored both the difficulties and the rewards of following that path. One reward is the exhilaration I feel right now, the rush of creative energy. That final chapter successfully braids together the three main story lines of the memoir into one tight bow, sealed by the book’s theme, and it does so in six short pages.
In two weeks I will have these pages polished sufficiently to send them, and the rest of my writing output this month, to my Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA advisor, memoirist extraordinaire Sue Silverman. This is part of the last “packet” of creative writing I’ll produce for her. In late December I’ll return to Montpelier for another residency. Then I will begin my final semester with a new advisor, focused on taking this first draft of my WIP and polishing it to the point where I can share it with the world.
The scene takes place in Portland, Oregon, the last stop on my cross-country journey. But while that drive had come to an end, I know today’s writing session is merely a mile marker. That is fine. It is a significant one, and I embrace it fully.
I never anticipated it would take two years to write a first-draft of this book–as a former wire reporter and an 18-year veteran of blogging, I know how to crank out copy–but I didn’t anticipate how many twists and turns the book would take as I learned how to apply the literary lessons I’m learning from my MFA advisors. My hope is that the end product will be worth it. I know it will be something I never could have produced without their guidance.
Thank you to all of my readers who have been with me on this journey, in particular some of the individuals who were among the first to stumble across my self-indulgence, like Milli Thornton and Charlotte Rains Dixon. You’ve put up with my self-doubt and my rants, and still you’re with me. That keeps me going. It will sustain me tomorrow, when I sit down at the computer at 5:00 in the morning and realize I’m not done, when I remember that writing is in the art of revision, and that several hundred pages await that process.
But that is tomorrow. Today I smile, and I bask.