When I got home from my day trip to Jackson on Monday, I stepped out of my car and immediately felt a severe pain in my left knee. The pain continued through the night, morphing into a more generalized pain on the back of the knee and in the thigh yesterday and last night. It still hurts this morning. My husband asked me if I stopped to stretch halfway through my drives to and from Jackson. On the way down I stopped in Grenada and got a cup of coffee and stretched my legs for about ten minutes. But on the way home I drove the 200 miles nonstop, wanting to make it home before dark. Evidently my body needs to stretch more often than it once did.
The first time I went to a major league baseball game—back in 1998 in Atlanta (go, Braves!)—I was amused when organ music started playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and everyone stood up and sang. I wasn’t familiar with the custom of the seventh inning stretch, but it sure made sense after sitting in those (hard) seats for a couple of hours.
I’m not usually one to use sports metaphors in my writing (my husband and our pastor both use them in their homilies—no surprise there) but I woke up this morning thinking about the idea of a stretch and this is just what came to me. If our bodies need physical stretching, surely our creative and generative selves also need this.
As impressed as I am with writers like Donna Tartt, who patiently works for ten years at a time on a single novel (and all of them turn out to be best sellers and literary gems, one winning a Pulitzer) I’m just not wired that way. It’s been almost five years since I penned the first draft of Cherry Bomb, and as I continue the daunting task of another round of revisions (working with a third editor on the project) I panic at the thought of doing nothing else for the next few months. Anne Lamott once comparing writing a novel to marriage and writing an essay to a one-night stand.
But writing essays isn’t my only way to stretch my creative legs on a long drive. During the years since I started working on the novel, I’ve also organized and directed two writing conferences and one writing workshop, spoken at several writing events, published essays in two anthologies and participated in readings for those books, and hosted two “salons” in our home here in Harbor Town. So… as I move forward with novel revisions, I’m also making plans for:
Hosting another salon—this one in February will feature a young woman who has a creative approach to all things financial.
Editing and publishing an anthology. Still tweaking the theme/title and researching publishing options, so I haven’t sent out a call for essays yet, but stay tuned.
When I asked a friend and mentor whether or not I was crazy to start up a project like this (anthology) before finishing the novel, I loved her reply:
I don’t think it’s crazy. In fact it may be quite smart to have something tangible, different, or something that seems to be or shows progress amidst a terminal hamster wheel ride. I applaud you. And it strikes me as a good topic.
Glad to hear the novel is still alive. Hang in there, but enjoy whatever new project recharges you.
Did I mention this friend has edited and published two anthologies and contributed an essay to another one while also writing and publishing her own book? And working in a university setting?
A terminal hamster wheel ride. That’s definitely what this novel feels like at times. But I already feel more excited about working on it now that I’ve also got new projects to recharge me.
I think I hear organ music.