All day long, my mind has been coming back to this poem by Czeslaw Milosz -
- and I don't quite know why. Maybe it's because we've been discussing our nonfiction picks at Sundog this week - and so many of the ones that we're considering, this round, happen to be about death and loss. At our editorial meeting last night, we were talking about how loss always ends up being such a dominant theme in this particular genre. And also marvelling at how different writers use totally different tools to cope with the universal human experience of pain. Some people use white space or distance, some people use volubility or humour, others use precision and control... there must be a thousand different ways to do this work, of transmuting feelings that are too hot to hold into something knowable, or at least describable, again.
I wonder if I keep thinking about this poem because of my querying journey as well! I don't want to say too much about it, because processes are still underway. But the main thing is that increasingly, I am grappling with the realisation that my book really could be out of my hands one day, somewhere in the world. Right before I started querying, I experienced a few initial waves of grief related to this knowledge, which really surprised me. And the feeling sometimes echoes on inside me, even now - alongside all my excitement and happiness - as the future becomes more real.
I suspect that I am writing this blog post because I am trying to make that leap that Milosz describes, in the very last line of the poem - from sorrow to wonder, in the process of letting go. Maybe sorrow is about looking backwards at what has been, and at all that can be known for sure, because it has already been experienced. E.g. the past 4 years of writing my book, the parts of my life that I've managed to tell a story about. Whereas wonder is about looking forwards, at something beyond the periphery of the known world ("where are they going?")... something in the darkness of the "after", that you might not have the exact words for yet. I wonder what that would look like for me! I would like to keep my eyes out there, on the darkness - on all the possibilities that are the antidote for sorrow.
There's probably so much more that I could write about this topic, but that's enough for today. In the coming weeks, I'd like to revive my old Substack again to do a book or story review - I feel the energy for that task rising. I'll post again here, when it happens.