Last night was supposed to be the launch party for my book. It was going to be in the historic Blackstone Hotel. My husband was going to sing. We’d sip on pre-prohibition cocktails and I’d talk about what inspired me to write, read a few passages, and answer questions.
It sold out in three hours. There was a waiting list.
I received a call on the morning of March 10. My launch party was postponed. I understood and agreed with the decision. Some friends thought it was an overreaction. Now we all know that it wasn’t. It was the right thing to do.
It still sucks.
I was already on an incredibly tight deadline (of my own making), but since March 10, I’ve barely been able to write. I haven’t completed a chapter in the past two weeks. My brain simply wouldn’t work the way I wanted it to. I’ve been cooking, a lot, to give my mind a break, but when I go back to the computer and try to tell this story I can’t access that kitschy, flippant voice that will be its signature. Suddenly I’m writing about a Building with History. But that is not my book. My book, and the chapter I’m trying to complete, tells a really cool story peppered with social justice, an arrogant architect, and a thin, thin-lipped man with a heart as big as Lake Michigan. (That’s better! I couldn’t have written that on Monday.)
Last week I drafted an intro for the chapter. It was serviceable, but still ponderous and pontificating. It wasn’t right. This week began with a series of fits and hiccups, but now it seems my voice is back. For the most part, anyway.
I feel like my brain is functioning again. It needed to. Not only do I have a book to write, but I also had a big freelance job for which I’d already been paid and it was hard to do anything else until that was complete.
It’s done, and now… now what?
That’s the big question, isn’t it? Last night, in lieu of my launch event, I attended a virtual dinner party. We prepared our individual dinners, poured our wine, and connected. It began with a toast and during our meal, our conversation began to drift towards complaints. One of my friends steered us back. She’d attended another dinner the night before, and while it was good to talk with friends, most of the time had been spent on what was going wrong.
If all we talk about is what is wrong, we can’t see what’s right. Personally, I can’t write. And I certainly can’t be amusing and entertaining when I’m paralyzed with fear.
Instead of making ourselves more miserable, we helped each other hope.
Now, when almost everything else I’d normally do is on hold, I’m going to write my book. That’s it. I have people who want to read it, some of whom pre-ordered, and I have stories I want to tell. I’m going to write it.
Other than that? I’m going to let myself be quiet. For as long as I can remember I have pushed myself, worked twelve to fourteen hour days, always thought of what’s next. The only time I am ever really present is when I’m traveling, because I want to absorb everything I’m experiencing.
It’s time I learned how to do that at home. It’s time I figured out how to be present and to live in the moment. If there ever were a time to let myself just be, now is it.
(After I write my book.)