Future forecast: Book comes out, author swoons

Expect a party on the day when the book I’m working on comes out. I’ve had the idea for years to write about the secrets I’ve learned about grieving, a little specialty of mine.

The reasons I need to write it are:

1. I’ve been at it since I was a little kid – the grieving, not the writing.

2. Then I was a counselor for years and heard other people out about their grief.

3. I’ve gone long enough in life that I’ve built up a good additional list of losses myself, some big, some small (but then again, probably so have you)

4. I’ve thought about grief way more than most people have, maybe too much.

5. I know I’ve got some things to say about it that not everyone knows, and I can’t get them out of my head (and heart) until I share them. Some people get obsessed with horses, or sailing; this is my preoccupation.

I’ve taken runs at it in the past but it hasn’t been time yet – the ideas were still growing up. Instead, I condensed them and put up a website. It’s been up a while and folks from all over the world stop in a take a look. I like that. Sometimes they write to me in thanks or with questions. I like that too.

Now, it’s time, and I’ve been hard at work on the book: Writer Anne Lamott says to sit down and write a “crappy first draft” all the way through, so I’m following her advice, and I’m closing in on two-thirds done, some of it already better than crappy.

Once it’s done and no longer crappy, then I’m faced with the hurdle of finding an agent who can sell it to a publisher who can send it out into the world, no small matters either.

What will that day bring to me? I’ve been warned by published writers that it won’t change my life. It won’t fill me with satisfaction, or make me climb on a pedestal. In fact, I had a teacher at a writing institute last summer spend some time trying to talk our entire class into abandoning our book projects in favor of having a life. She made a good point, but I was too far gone by then.

I think for me, it won’t be dreams of glory or riches (really, a book about grief? What am I thinking?). It will be two things: relief that it’s done and I can move on to other projects, and the hope that a bunch of people will read it and get some little slivers of wisdom that they can put to use.

The last chapter is about writing the loss you’ve suffered into your ongoing life story. Finishing the book will merit a good footnote in mine: finally, wrote the thing I was meant to write. Whew!


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