Monday, July 14, 2014

The Question

So, I was asked today, by a very dear friend, how it felt to come this far?  To physically see my story in book form after the four years, it took for this labor of love to become something more than just a neat idea in my overcrowded imagination.  Four years of frantic, tedious storyboarding, day long battles with frustration when the pieces just didn't fit quite right, creative revelations that woke me from what little slumber I could manage, twelve hour long typing stints at my PC and the unending headaches that followed, adoring and then hating and then adoring again every character and plot point, and, finally, the countless rewrites and revisions that for an anal, O.C.D individual like myself is the same as passing multiple mental kidney stones through a bent coffee stirrer.
 
Someone once said, “When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”   That statement is as legitimate as Lindsey Lohan providing a clean urine test.  The individual who first uttered it must suffer from a myriad of psychological delusions or the lifelong effects of “medicinal” herbs or illegal pharmaceuticals.    I love to write, that never neutralized the work side of it.    It never makes it easier, it does, however, propel me to continue through the countless writer’s blocks, accidentally deleted chapters, and impossibly irreconcilable story lines.   It is the love that makes it worth doing, without it, one would give up before the very first keystroke.

No, to sum up my passion for this insane process I prefer Tom Hank’s verbal tirade to Geena Davis’ character in one of my favorite films, A League of Their Own.     If you haven’t seen the film, Netflix it as soon as you can, but for the sake of time and wear on your eyes, I will paraphrase and you can catch up later.  Davis character is about to quit the league, stating that the game has just become too hard.  To which, Hank answers, “It’s supposed to be hard.”  “If it weren't hard everyone would do it.”  “The hard makes it great!”  And from those utterances, I adopted those three simple statements, composed by a writer like myself, to express my love for the art form and the difficulties contained therein.

Now that I have rambled, as I often do,  let’s get back to my original thought, that being, the question what was it like?  What was it like to first open the box that contained the finished product, holding it in my hands for the first time, fanning through the freshly printed pages.  And yes, I took a whiff of the paper to truly savor the moment and quickly discovered it  was my new favorite aroma.  What was it like when I first saw my novel sitting on the end table next to my bed on top of my wife's other reading materials?  How did it feel when I sold my first copy, E-BOOK, printed version, or otherwise on Amazon.com?

If this was one of those word association tests, the first word that always comes into my mind, time and time again, is surreal.   It trumps excitement, adulation, gratification, and even deep humility and gratitude.    It sometimes feels like I am on the outside looking in, as if my life is some dimly lit play and I am merely a part of the audience, trying to figure out where it is all going, how will it get there, and will I believe it when it does?    It is truly humbling to finish such an adorably daunting task.   It defies a word like gratification to describe the intense feeling of fulfillment that engulfs you as sit back in your office chair and flip through each page; quickly snagging an excerpt here and there to validate it is all real.    Excitement doesn't even begin to graze the emotion that wells up inside as you feast on that final revelation of accomplishment and try to digest it all.

After twenty-six years of procrastinating, held hostage by the fear of rejection and failure, it is as if I have grown wings and stretched them to their full length for the first time.   I am flying, not like a graceful gull, but with the force and fierceness of a condor slicing through the wind of a noonday storm.    Ascending to new heights of freedom and satisfaction that I barely noticed existed before.    And if that all sounds so very melodramatic, just call me Susan Lucci and be done with it.  Again, not familiar with the reference, Netflix it.  

So now, with my new found sense of flight, I have a duty to myself and my small, but ever-growing, stable of fans, to continue.    Well, that sounds a bit too selfless I think.  Maybe it’s this new high that I have now discovered that propels me more than even the love I originally described.   And though I would never consider comparing it to birthing a child, as that would make me the biggest sexist pig since Anthony Weiner, I still consider it a form of creation, bringing characters and stories to life that once only existed in the dreams and aspirations of a genuinely eccentric mind.  Each work is my offspring, part of me but more than a mere appendage.  

I can only hope that those who share in each story will be as engaged, thrilled, invested, and entertained as I am in weaving each tapestry.    If they can see the stories unfold in their own minds, as if they have an internal cinema,  gloriously playing in their heads, free of commercial interruptions.  If they experience each tragedy and triumph, pain and pleasure of every character, not only sharing the story with them, but as them.   If they can’t put the novel down until it’s finished because they haven’t the patience to wait one more minute to see where it leads, how it ends.  If I can truly affect  just one person in that way, I have already achieved the miraculous.    To accomplish the same emotion and investment, I experienced as I read every written word of the men and women who inspired me.

I hope that answers the question in the simplest way I know how.  And I am truly thankful for each and every one of my family and friends who gave me the strength and encouragement to be able to even field the question.

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