It's been a hectic summer, and I haven't felt the urge to write here at all until today. I was going to do some general updates about new positions started, new activities I'm involved in... but I think that actually those belong properly on social media, not here.
Some big news is that I've started new editorial positions at Sundog Lit and Exposition Review - two lit journals that I absolutely love, because they publish the kind of work that makes me feel happy to be alive and reading. Submissions open soon for both - and if you're reading this (and a writer), I hope that I'll get to see you in the queue!
What I really feel like doing is taking stock of things for a minute, writing-wise.
I finished writing my book two weeks ago, on a very warm Sunday. I could feel - deeply and with absolute certainty - that the book was finished, in the sense that it had finally managed to become the thing that it wanted to be all along, in its bones. It isn't polished yet, of course - there are still lots of loose ends that need tucking away. But fundamentally the book now exists in the world, and is entirely itself. Which is an incredible and magical thing for me to think about, after almost four years of writing. I felt so light and airy on the day I finished.
Since then, though, something strange has been happening to me. Not many people talk about what it feels like in the weeks right after you finish writing a book, so I don't know if this is how it goes for everyone. But for me, what I feel is the return of a much older version of myself. This version of myself tends towards self-critical, with a sharp eye for her own flaws, and an overdeveloped ability to articulate how and why the things she makes might be broken.
It's surprising to me, actually, that this part of me still exists! I thought that at some level it had been eradicated by the last year and a half of my life, when I felt more creativity and joy than I've ever felt as an adult. I feel like the next lap of my book journey is going to be about learning how to coexist peacefully with this inner critic - without letting her overpower me - so that I can rely on her keen eye during the next few stages of editing.
And so far it's been a struggle! I can feel that there is a part of me that wants it all to be over quickly - that wants to just chuck the whole thing off to some higher authority, like an agent or publisher, so that I don't have to keep facing myself in revisions. In one of my favourite recent essays about the writing life, Carmen Maria Machado describes something a little similar - where new writers sometimes give in to the urge to "go pro" too early, almost as a shortcut from doing the necessary work that their book requires of them. This feeling - it is real, and I feel it. I'm also glad that essays like this one exist, to help me fight my own impatience and know that I'm not alone.
Let's see how things go.
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