So I went to a book launch party last night. All the usual suspects--the writers and their significant others and various Portland luminaries--were present. It was a great party, actually. One of the most fun evenings of the past year.
I found myself, once again, lamenting my lack of focus, and yammered on about not having, after two years, a complete manuscript. While my colleagues pound out the pages amid other work, raising kids and having packed lives with external commitments, I continue to fill my days up without tending to my novel. It's like my garden. I have all the intentions in the world--cultivating a weed-free paradise with dahlias and asters and roses and pruned trees and contained vegetables that bare spotless fruits. Alas, my actual garden is an over-grown squash factory with bolted stalks of aphid-crawling who-the-hell-knows-what-all.
And so it goes with The Secret to Love (or Stairway of Love--I'm still on the fence about that). Weeds have thrust themselves up in the white space of time. I have to reacquaint myself with the texture and tone each time I sit down because of the passage of days, and sometimes even weeks.
At the party, I was tired of hearing myself whine about my lack of commitment, and so were, I'm guessing, my writer friends. "You know what?" said my industrious Virgo friend Cheryl, "There's going to be a consequence if you don't get this done by October 1st."
"A consequence," muttered the chorus of others in earshot. "Yes, a bad consequence."
Cheryl gleefully offered: "We're going to cut off your hair!" And Lidia said, "Into a bob."
Me with a bob would look like Bozo the Clown, except maybe without the bald part in the middle. "That's horrible," I said.
The writers made fake hair-cutting motions with their fingers. "A bob," they said. "Unless it's finished."
And then Cheryl, who immediately realized that I might be moved to cheat, said, "And you can't just slap anything into the manuscript and say that it's done. I'm going to read it, and if you put like, copied and pasted words from somewhere, you're still getting a bob."
According to the notes I scribbled in the tent last month, I have eight significant chunks of things to have happen. Eight as-of-yet-unwritten chapters. Meaty chapters. What am doing writing about writing instead of writing? I have 24 days until the dreaded bob. It's like a reverse advent calendar--with the big "Christmas" window in the middle being either a bob or a finished book.