Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Time in Goliath

Three hundred and ninety-six pages. I finished the rewrite, sent it off, and suffered a day or two of fuzzy/nervous/giddy-tired energy. I cleaned my house, a task that has not been properly attended to in five or six months. I googled recipes with ridiculous confines: low-fat, low-calorie, easy, five-ingredient, chicken. Then, added: fast. I fantasized about having an extravagent holiday open-house, adding a patio to our backyard, actually hanging up the curtains I ordered for the bathroom months ago. Reading every book in my to-be-read pile. I decided I would map out the rest of my daughter's home-school year, week by week. Plan a garden. I will read Einstein's papers, the Bible, Genesis to Revelation.

Then came the exhaustion, the true exhaustion. All the adrenoline leaked out sometime in the middle of the night and I slept like a dead person. I just didn't move. Two new cold sores popped up. A sore back. And, because there were sandcrabs mentioned late in the book, residual sandcrabs flashed at the oddest moments. They simply sprang to mind, and I saw it happen again and again: they crawled into miniature sand-dunes, a wave washed them out, and they went crawling, burrowing in once again.

What I was seeing was myself over the last several months: being washed out of Goliath, the small factory town that serves as a setting for my novel, and burrowing back in time and time again. Trying to find another sweet spot, another place in the wet sand to push in, enter. I think the writer can appreciate the tenacity, the single-mindedness of the sandcrab.

Giddy-energy, exhaustion, and now--always--gratitude. What amazes me is how the work continues to be its own reward. The harder I work, the more it takes from me, the sharper my writerly instinct becomes, the more stubbornness it requires, the better this writing life is.

Geez, I love this stuff. Love it, love it. Am I crazy?

10 comments:

katrina said...

Love this post, Susan.

cathykidman.com said...

not at all! amazing that you can write so beautifully while exhausted!

Georgia said...

Deliciously presented.

Susan Woodring said...

Thank you guys so much for reading and for your comments. It feels good to be blogging again, and it's so nice to hear from each of you--

towriteistowrite said...

Congratulations on finishing the rewrite. It's good to have you blogging again. I look forward to reading Goliath.

Jessie Carty said...

I love the truth of this! I still feel exhausted and all I can think is=I'm too tired to even shoe shop ;)

Tracy Crow said...

Longing to feel exactly the same way when I ship off the memoir to my editor in 45 days. Wait, just 45 days?! Yikes! Gotta go!

Susan Woodring said...

Kathy, thank you!! Feels good to be back at the blogging.

Jessie, yes, it is very sad indeed when one is too tired even for shoe-shopping. Thankfully, I find I'm never too tired for online shoe shopping. I *heart* Zappos.

Oh, Tracy, you and I are going to have to meet up at AWP for a celebritory drink!! So thrilled to hear how close you are--am cheering you on!!

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Thanks for a great realistic picture of life after rewrites! Congratulations!

~Debbie

Susannah said...

Congratulations!! This is fantastic! I love this part: "The harder I work, the more it takes from me, the sharper my writerly instinct becomes, the more stubbornness it requires, the better this writing life is"

I'm just now figuring out what kind of writer I am. For me, blogging is what results in this kind of 'feeling.' Not so much my own posts, but the exchange between commenters, esp. when we're on different side of an issue. It drives me to clarify, articulate, hone; distill, edit, mine my voice until that 'voice' is razor sharp. Sometimes I find myself asking, 'why? What for?' But then, I realize I don't have to have an 'end game.' I even dig the process of it!

Yippee!