Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wistful

Life is hard, but, then, tell you something you don't know.

And, yet, we still want it to go slower. We want to hold on to the good parts, savor them, make them stick in our minds. And, oh, how we cannot.

The first draft is just the beginning.
Today I made it through 40 pages that look like this. I had
hoped to make it through 100.
I spent the day in Barnes & Noble today, my mind a mishmash of manic thoughts. In a few months, my book will be there. Or, should be there, but may not be. I may need you to beg for it to be.

Still, on the B&N shelves or not, it will be out there in the world for sale. It took me a decade to get here - to being a published author. To having a book come out. And all I want to do is be grateful. But the publishing world has changed so much in the past five years, or maybe I just know too much now. What I understand now, is not only how bumpy the road to getting here is, but that getting here doesn't mean staying.

Still, ten years ago, I would have given almost anything to get here.

While I was sitting in B&N drinking my coffee and working on revisions for my hopefully-next book, a woman sat across from me with her small daughter. They read books, and chatted and shared cookies. Something I did weekly with my two boys, year after year, and it was one of my favorite things. And as I did those things with my sons, I tried to savor every moment, to not ever wish to be anywhere but right there with them as I was. Moreso, I tried to store images of them like snapshots in my brain, so I wouldn't forget a thing. But, still, it was elusive, and watching that woman with her young child, was suddenly almost too much to bear.

Even now, just typing this, eviscerates me.

I want those moments back. I want a hundred more years with my sons. I want to hold them, and play with them, and read to them, and have them look up at me with their big, brown intelligent eyes and promise me we have a lifetime still ahead of us together.

But we don't. They are 13 and 15, and they are almost gone.

So, here I am with my book coming out.
And I am grateful.
But ten years have flown by like a minute. Even though life is unbearably hard.

And I'd give almost anything to go back there.

-gae

23 comments:

  1. The mixed blessings of being blessed. I struggle with many of the same feelings. Hang in there, Gae. Spring is coming. And with it, May 10.

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  2. Gae, I wept reading this...My two and my husband's two now, inexplicably at least to me, range in age from 18 to 23. And the simple fact of their advanced age confounds me...that time passed at such a seemingly accelerated rate...that all those ordinary moments, every single one of which I truly treasured, are suddenly assigned to the ages.
    When my daughter, then 17, headed off to the dorm last September, I soon became aware of new companion that travels with me everywhere...a deep abiding longing to have them all back as they were once...
    Don't get me wrong, I'm totally aware that things are unfolding as they should. I celebrate their respective achievements daily and wish them futures as bright and as bold as they deserve. But what I wouldn't give for those Friday nights at the bookstore in Toronto where we, an impenetrable little unit, picked out something for the week then headed next door to Starbucks for hot chocolate.
    While I don't claim to have nailed many things in life, I was always aware that those days would be the ones I would always recall and I, like you, never wished away a second of them...but I'm making up for that now...wishing constantly for them to be back again. Annette

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  3. Jim and Annette, as your comments have now made me cry again, perhaps catharasis was too lofty a goal to attain today.

    Perhaps today is just meant to be spent with one another in weepy understanding.

    And for that I am also grateful.

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  4. Weeping now with all of you. I don't often get teary at blogs, but this struck straight to the heart of my everyday and big-picture life. It's elusive, ephemeral, too much and ever not quite enough. Why?????
    xo B

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  5. why, indeed.

    btw, that photo is of my sons. It is not stock. Can you stand it?

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  6. Ah don't be sad your book is like a new baby that will change your life. From reading your blogs and chatting with you on twitter I know I can't wait to read your book.

    Um I don't have kids but I'll go home and remind my nephew not to grow up to quickly ;)

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  7. Cari, that last sentence made me laugh. Thanks. I needed that. :)

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  8. Beautiful post. You see into my heart and remind me of what is precious.

    And that picture of your boys...so sweet it makes ME teary.

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  9. thank you Gae, and all of you who commented. I'm weeping too. Now I must go treasure some moments with my little ones. for all the chaos and frustration, I can't yet imagine the grief of letting go.

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  10. Here's something to really cry about: I have a two children who are RETURNING to the nest.

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  11. Gae, missed the pic the first time so scrolled up upon reading it wasn't stock...Actually yelped, "Oh sweet Jesus!"...Stand it? You would have to be made of steel to not tear up at the sight of it!

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  12. Wow, Gae. This really touched me. I makes me grateful for the times I have, and reminds me not to squander the pressure few minutes I have.

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  13. Jim, you made me laugh again. Once they go, they should probably only ever visit again.

    Jeff, I think your "pressure" was a freudian slip, but thank you. I'm so jealous you still have little ones, even though even just the thought exhausts me.

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  14. weeping. this is the not very spoken about underside of the joy of parenting. this is why in the more difficult moments, I remember to count my blessings as they say, to savor the small moments. this is the type of quiet grief that makes people like you and me artists & writers because we have to find something to do with our sorrow other than implode. this is why I love you--(well, one reason) for your honesty--for feeling so deeply & for sharing it so we all feel a little better about the things that torment our own minds when no-one else is looking.

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  15. I remember the last time I held my son in my lap. For some reason, I KNEW it was the last time. I was in my writing chair, next to the fireplace. He was ten. He wanted to be in my lap, with me cuddling him. HIs long thin legs dangled awkwardly. I wrapped my hand around his silky hair and treasured what I knew would not be repeated. I felt sad, yes, but also proud of both of us. He was a wonderful person, and I knew I'd given him good loving.

    This does connect to publishing your novel, Gae. As you mention, the publishing climate has changed. You know, looking at my career, that it's hard to KEEP publishing because, now, you have to sell books. But I will tell you this: I have pretty astute gut feelings.

    You're on your way to success. I predict it.

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  16. Thanks Jody,

    I'm trying to hold on to what success is, and to believe that I've already had it enough to feel proud and satisfied (regardless of another book or sales numbers). The trick is, indeed, in holding on to that.

    <3

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  17. Oh, what a touching, reflective post. I sometimes resent that I always had to work full time. Hubby could have had time like that, but was generally more a 'throw the baseball' type. I read with my kids every night until they wouldn't, and I miss that, though that has become my writing time, and I love that, too.

    (that looks pretty darned CLEAN for a first draft to me!)--good luck getting through it all!

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  18. thanks, Hart. It's why the thought of hardcover books disappearing is so sad to me. I guess you can curl up with your kids with a kindle, but it's not really the same as turning pages with a baby on your lap looking on in wonder... Or sitting in bed together following the words unfold.

    As for that looking clean, that particular section had already been edited twice already. ;)

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  19. I cried reading this. My sons are 7 and 5- the older one put a distance between him and me about six months, so I clung even more to the younger one knowing he too would soon want to "grow up". But now the older one is back again, and I am re-savouring every moment. But even as I savour every hug they give me, I die inside knowing there are only so many more of those moments left for them and me.
    BUT, the next time I have one of those moments, it will be for you- if I will it hard enough, I am sure you would just for a moment be able to grab that moment with your two.
    Now excuse me, while I go grab a tissue.

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  20. um, am I the only one who isn't weeping? :) Mine are very wide spaced, so maybe that's why I dont have this angst about one leaving (A: not that he will and B: my daughter will get her own room. ... yay? :) Yay!!

    I also live in lots of denial. So there's that. Er...;)

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  21. Wow. I am going to love following this blog.
    Isn't it amazing how reminiscent Barnes and Noble can make you? Seriously...I often find myself just wandering, thinking, and drinking strawberry frapaccinos without ever buying a book.

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  22. omg, yay, it's "you" !!!

    of course, now im gonna have to keep this one (i have two -- a YA one and this) up to date and "apology, apology, excuse, excuse, excuse... wink" me.

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