Just Breathe…

Nothing that is complete breathes.  ~Antonio Porchia,Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

I have to keep reminding myself of this. I’m not “done” until I’m dead…and neither is my story—the most important one I’ll ever be a part of. Due to the nature of time, we never quite know where we’re at in the plot of our own lives (though some have a better idea than others). But, I know this much is true—there is conflict. And like any good story, there will also be set backs, red herrings, lost time and disappointment. I don’t know what kind of story this is and I’d love to be in the mood to make a witty joke or two about it having something to do with satan wearing designer duds.

But, I’m not in the mood. I’m breathless.

My first novel, as most of you know, debuts in a few months and I’m experiencing what all new authors (and seasoned) go through: cold sweats, tears, laughter, woe, etc. I’m learning to develop, as Ien called it, a filter. It’s tough. I don’t know how to avoid the media and yet maintain a presence in it all the same. In but not of, I suppose.

It will always be Fable to me. And now, as I feel the heat inherent in public viewing, I resort back to that title in my mind. Guardians, is what has been picked up and published. Guardians is what will be reviewed and pulled apart and critiqued—for better or worse. Guardians is what will either sell or not sell and what will ultimately bring in royalty checks—or not.

Fable is the story I fell in love with long ago—the characters who rest as much in me, as beside me on the page.

The decision to step out in faith and welcome a career as an author, instead of living that calling without the professional validation, feels a little like dying inside. And perhaps that is also what Porchia was referring to. In an effort to move closer to completion, you lose a little of who you once were. You die a little. But, so long as you’re still breathing, you’re not done yet.

Your first crush took your breath away. Your first real, deep, chest rattling cry, took your breath away. Your first love took your breath away. Your first loss threatened to take it away permanently. Your first rejection did the same. Your first job interview, your last day on the job, the birth of your children…all the important stuff, whether good or bad, mimics death in part because it is a birth of sorts. A new beginning. And don’t newborns cry? Perhaps my response to this isn’t so unusual after all. Maybe no one talks about this internal struggle because they feel obligated to express only sheer elation over being published.

Allow me, if you will, to once again be transparent. Yes, there is a wonderful, magical sense about all of this. But, like cracks in glass, I feel the cold seeping in. It keeps me real and makes me who I am. I’m not complaining. But, if anyone else is feeling this and thinks they’re alone…rest assured…you aren’t.

So I guess this isn’t it. I’ve still some story left in me. And there’s only one thing to do…

8 responses

  1. One, I love the myth of Persephone. Nice artistry to go with this post.

    Two, very deep insights. Thank you!

    Three, it takes a lot of courage to be transparent. Keep it up!

  2. Your post makes me wonder how I will feel come January, on the brink of my first release the beginning of February. I don’t sense any awareness of a turning point now, only moving ahead with so much more I want to accomplish, experience, and build from that beginning. I’ll reflect in depth upon your thoughts more as the next few months pass. Quite possibly, it may crash down upon me with the abrupt change to a new year, which seems appropriate for embarkment on such a journey.


    • It sort of snuck up on me. Like the stark realization 3/4 of the way through the movie that you’ve gotta pee….

      “Dammit. Really? I was just getting to the good part.”

      It’ll pass, just like the breathless first kiss bit. Time erodes such emotions and mellows them out.

  3. Such bittersweet emotions expressed here, and I know exactly how you feel, and sometimes I stand on the precipice of what I’ve put out there and what I’ve done and I want to cry and scream and turn back time because it wasn’t what I envisioned at all. It is better and it is worse. It is elation and it is despair. And you’re right. Newly published authors rarely talk about this, and I think it needs to be expressed. Thank you for this. Time does erode such emotions.

  4. The thing about being published is that after you are dead and buried or scattered and the life you lived is gone and blowing in the wind the part of you contributed in publishing this storywith luck will live forever.

  5. Just breathe. I like that. After having published one of my children’s books, I too realized it was nothing like I thought it would be like. Getting in the book that was just released this week which I illustrated wasn’t like what I thought it would be, and seeing the first cover art I’ve ever done actaully there in my hand wasn’t the same either. My fear is, that when I release the true heart and soul of my work (my fantasy novel) into the world, and it isn’t what I expect… will it break my heart that much more because of the deep love that I have for it? This is a question I ask myself over and over all the time… and you’ve made me wonder again… perhaps that is why I avoid finishing it. Because I don’t want to really start shopping it around and finding rejection… because I don’t want to let it loose and have it riticuled… sigh. If only I’d chosen a carreer which was a little less close to my heart and soul and showed a little less of all my vulnerabilities life would be easier… but the journey wouldn’t be as exciting. One pay off for another I suppose. God speed J.S. your transparency is empowering and makes me believe that I too may be able to take that step and make it happen. You’re an inspiration. Thank you for this post.

  6. I can understand your concern about your work going out into the world. It is your work that will be reviewed and critiqued not you. That’s hard to remember but that’s the truth.

    My own view is to take it one day at a time. You’ll muddle through as we all do.

    I think your title captures that.

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