I handed my passport and declaration form to the U.S. Customs officer, and he asked me, "So how do you make a living?"
Which is my favorite question, especially from scary-faced men in super official uniforms.
I said in a rush, "Well, it's not actually a living, I'm a writer, writing novels, but, yeah, I'm not paid for it or anything. Not published. Still learning. Kind of."
At which point he scanned my passport and said, "It'll pay off."
He gave my passport back and I took it and sort of floated down the corridor.
It will pay off. The scary man said so. Which is SUPER news since I'm starting a new book on Monday, right? Right.
I met that Customs official on the way back from Bermuda. I spent a week and a half on that tiny island with pink beaches and sharp sunlight and mopeds zipping about and playing card games at night with the doors open so we could hear the waves.
So good to be away for a while, good to let that to do list shrink and atrophy a bit, right?
This is the between week: post-vacation, and pre-drafting. Full of unpacking and laundry and returning emails. All that good catch-up stuff.
But I have to admit, I also envisioned a kind of super-charged version of me, running around on all that vacation energy and mid-Atlantic sunshine, getting some long-neglected projects taken care of before the new project starts...
Instead I'm fighting off the cold that the guy sitting in 11B gave me. (Thanks for that, mister. Three hours of being coughed on? I finally succumbed.)
Spent today in pajamas and my favorite pair of socks (they are ten years old, don't tell anyone), pottering around the house and sneezing. Ruffled my notes for the draft, looked over all those paragraphs hopefully.
Not so much ultra-productive super-charge super-anything.
Maybe that's okay.
I always feel like I should have everything just so before starting a draft. That I should be ready for it, whatever ready means. I'm building an imaginative universe out of my brain on Monday morning at 10 a.m. ... how can anyone be ready enough for that?
Maybe it's better to just drink hot toddies and nap. Because the beauty of the novel and the crazy roller-coaster thrill of writing a new draft... it doesn't come from my having every thing perfectly in place.
It comes from the wildness of inventing something new, day after day after day.
So it's probably fine that I didn't deep clean the closet, clear the junk out of that one corner, or scrub down the bathroom. And whoops about that shopping and errand running I was going to do.
This baby novel doesn't really depend on the rest of my life running perfectly.
All I actually need is a stack of blank notebooks and a very deep, persistent desire to tell myself a new story.
And of those two, it's the desire that's more important.
Does that quote give you chills? It does for me. (Or maybe that's being sick. No, no, I think it's the quote.) Tenacity. Even the word sounds tough, full of muscle.
I have the notebooks. A fresh crop of new pens. And I'm starting to hear my characters around every corner.
Paper, pens, ideas, and tenacity.
So I guess I'm ready?
Yeah. Totally. I'm ready.
Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. -- Louis Pasteur