A Way Back to Words
Oh. This. Blog.
This space has felt so very far away from me in the past year. Last fall and it’s brutal election sent me into a fog. I know a lot of writers struggled to find words after last November and I was one of them. I retreated from them here, lending my voice elsewhere, sounding off on Facebook, then backing away from there, too, where it just felt, and still feels, like too narrow of a place, shouting into our ethers, our choirs, in this cacophony of noise. Twitter also became overwhelming, though I started to notice its power to mobilize in a way I hadn’t before. I ducked in and out, like a scared turtle. Instagram became a safe space, where I could post photos of our new home in Westchester: trees, sky, sunsets, Little O and his bright red hair. Perhaps a very curated view of the world was what I needed, and still need.
So, in other words, my online life has been wonky. I haven’t known how to manage it. But offline, a lot has happened. Just after the election, I learned I was pregnant with our second child, and a few months later, I learned it was with a baby girl. Little E was born the last day in July. She came raging into the world, ready as ever, just two and a half hours after the first contraction, a whirlwind birth, chaotic, then calm, and she carries that fury with her into these first three months. She’s happy, smiley, easy to manage, but when she’s angry, she rages, her face scrunched up, her fists and body clenched, until we give her what she needs.
Her needs are easier than Little O’s, these days. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Be loved. An endless cycle. But O needs the pink-handled bowl with his cereal, not the white and green-specked bowl which is for oatmeal, and he’ll need it with the small spoon, not the big spoon, and ‘don’t get it Mommy, I’ll get it Mommy, no, go get it Mommy, NOOO I WANT TO GET IT’. The inevitable meltdown that ensues when you don’t get it right and you can’t get it right because ‘right’ is wrong in the topsy turvy world of three years old.
These needs are harder. It has challenged me more than I can express.
But, then, age three has been epic in language and social development. We’re able to have sweet, long, interesting conversations. We’ll sit and read real picture books with paper covers instead of the baby board books. He’ll introduce himself on the playground. ‘What’s your name?’ Run off with his friends to ring the doorbell to Trick-Or-Treat on his own. He can miss people. He can like people and not like people. And I am both of those people in one day. He can love hard, kick hard, play hard, come crashing down on his pillow at night and back up like a jack in the box ten times before long uninterrupted sleeps. He can be sweet and sour and fickle and clear and cloudy as day and rain all at once.
My writing life has also been rich and I don’t take it for granted in a world that feels increasingly fragile. I’m happy to live the dream of publishing a novel, each milestone nerve-inducing but also so, so wonderful, I just try to live each step of the process because who knows if I’ll ever take the steps again.
So, I edited my debut novel last fall. It received a title change. The Tree Book turned Next to Nothing became Just Under the Clouds. And the title fits this novel, about a homeless girl looking up, closer than she knows to answers, to finding what she needs. Soon after, I got a beautiful illustrated cover, which I’ll be able to reveal soon. Then things slowly went into motion, author photos, copy-edits, and first pass pages, full jackets and flap copy. I got a release date: June 5, 2018. From there I received advanced reader copies in the mail and I can’t wait to share it all with you soon. The book is about to go into the world and, then, it will no longer be mine. I’m both scared and excited to let it go.
I also wrote another book. I found my way back to words. Helpless, useless, everywhere else in the world, I zig-zagged there, somehow, and I have a draft of something I love. I can’t wait to edit and revise it with my editor at Knopf and I guess that book will be a real book someday, too.
So, I’m here, now, if not back, and I hope to find my way here more, maybe. If anyone’s still reading, if I’m not typing into a dark void whose echoes I’ve heard and missed, then tell me about your reading life, your writing life, your life-life. Tell me about it all.