I hadn’t had a bath in two days. And the last meal I could remember eating was a handful of chocolate chips (no cookies, just the chocolate chips straight out of the bag). And I texted to two friends and I called my publisher.
I’ve finished it. I’ve written “The End” on the bottom of the last page. I’ve finished writing my latest book.
My publisher will be the one to decide, of course – whether it is a book worth publishing and whether it is, indeed, finished. But right now, in my own mind, the story has been told and it is ready for the telling to others.
After a book manuscript is finished by a writer, it is a long way and time until it is a “book.” But for the author, this is a terribly significant and mixed-emotion time – not unlike the semi-sweet chocolate that was my last meal. It is semi-sweet to be done with the creating and crafting and discipline of writing; and it’s semi-sweet saying goodbye to the characters, to the place of reality where you’ve lived for the past weeks and months and sometimes years; and it’s a semi-sweet feeling of putting down your pen and purpose – your reason for being – even if it is only for awhile.
Perhaps this has been particularly evident to me, particularly relevant, right now – to feel as if I’ve had a place to go and people to be with, and to have a sense of meaningfulness in my life during this actual real time of isolation and confinement.
And I suspect there may be a burst of art and writing and music, of philosophy and creative science and imaginative thinking, that will be coming out on a global basis, after we have all gotten through this time of self-imposed introspection and, for some of us, a sort of desperation to find purpose in our lives.
But I also suspect that some of this scurry and push in creativity may be simply for our personal need to create an “alternate reality” for ourselves, an alternate place to be and hangout, an alternate us – like children and their imaginary friends or playing dress-up; like theater and the theater of the mind we get from reading; like playing games and make-believe and wearing clown noses.
I also suspect that it is our ability to conceive of and then get lost in such alternate realities that is our human saving grace. That it is there that we can find the seeds of peace and patience, empathy and humor, and we can grow them, and we can take them out into the world and share them like blossoms and fruits – or even made up into homemade breads and fresh-baked pies.
The natural world has been doing its best to keep us at least occupied, if not actually entertained, during this time – admittedly, it’s been a sort of trial-and-error effort (like a jack-in-the-box meant to be a distraction which actually scares the bejeebers out of the children). But there have also been sky dances of stars and double rainbows, a cleansing of the earth’s atmosphere and waters, a renewal of forests and the wild things that live there. And babies are still being born and weddings are still being celebrated and love songs are being sung across the world to strangers.
So I hope all the new stories are on their way as well, and the art and music and dance and the original insights of science and thought. I am looking forward to adding my own small voice to it, too – my own new story getting ready for the telling.
I’ll bring more chocolate.