Writing Disappears

Each time that I have written a book, the same strange process happens at the end.  While I am thinking about the project, I am all excited and loving the ideas.  When I first start, I get scared and worried that I have nothing much to say or won’t be able to say anything very cogently.  Then, when I am in the midst of writing, I am very focused (some might say manically attentive).  And when it is over, it is over.  So far, none of this seems particularly strange and I’m sure that most people with writing projects have idiosyncratic processes. 

 What seems strange to me is the way it disappears when I send it to the publisher.  And then, six or eight months later, I get a wonderful box filled with books – my books, books that I have already promised as gifts to more people than I have copies so I have to spend money and buy more books.  It is probably authors who have so many people to thank that they keep the publishing industry alive.

 A book comes out more than a year after you finish writing.  To the reader, it is brand new. To me, it is years old, having been conceived, born, raised and launched. 

Years ago, I used to watch ice skating.  One year Torvill and Dean won the gold with an amazing performance to the music of Bolero.  Later, they went pro and used Bolero in their act. When a reporter asked them, “What does Bolero mean to you?” expecting memories of the Olympics, sniffles and humility, Christopher Dean answered, “It means that we are halfway through the program.”  Oooh, politically incorrect but not surprising to hear.  They were not living in the shadow of the Olympic Games, they had moved on.  When I saw the performance, I was moved. It was new to me but they had practiced it a million times and performed it a thousand – how could it be fresh?    When I’ve been asked to talk about one of my books, I am years past the conception, writing, and editing although it is a brand new experience for the reader (there are a few readers who are not my relatives).

 All you artists out there – what is your reaction to a finished piece?


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