The day after I emailed my sex book to my editor in New York, I had so much I wanted to blog about. Ideas and words kept popping into my head. But I wouldn’t let myself write them because I felt I needed to take the day off. The previous four months had been long, hard, and stressful – editing and rewriting my own work under a tight deadline, along with editing and coaching others, teaching, prepping for and going to China, family responsibilities, and perhaps most stressful of all, the fear and anxiety of revealing my soul in a memoir that I dream hundreds of thousands of people will read.
The second day after turning in my sex memoir, the blog ideas and words continued popping into my brain. I still had a hunger to write them down. Instead, I returned to my sex book and did a week’s worth of rewrite and re-turned in the book, a “whopping” five pages shorter than the original, but with an ending I hope is stronger and more satisfying to the reader. (And please pardon that ridiculous pun. It’s one I wouldn’t have used if a better word had popped into my brain).
Just like the week before when I’d first turned in the sex book, that hunger and desire to blog returned. Still I wouldn’t let myself write. I knew I needed rest, and I had freelance assignments that had been waiting for two months. I had to dive into them. (Thank you, kind clients, for waiting for me.)
By the time I turned in those assignments, complete and utter physical, mental and emotional exhaustion overwhelmed me. I think that happens to most writers once we finish a book. After the exhaustion, or perhaps more accurately, in the midst of the exhaustion, depression sets in as we grieve over our projects and the loss of our characters. Whether one is writing nonfiction or fiction our characters are real to us. They are our friends and constant companions. When they are no longer there for us on a daily basis, we mourn their passing. Without them, we are a bit lost.
That’s where I am right now. I’m a bit lost. That sounds silly when I have another freelance project to do, one that will take months, when I know what I want my next two books to be and I need to get cracking on them, and when I have another secret project that I want to do and must be done now if it is to happen at all.
But instead of working and accomplishing, I sit at my computer and stare at TMZ and Facebook as if someone is going to post something that will forever alter my future for the positive if I don’t read that post within five seconds of it going online. I then tell myself that I’m not writing because I’ve first got to clean my desk, my office, and my house. I need to clear out the old and get organized before I can start the new. Instead, I walk around in circles, fuming at the mess that won’t walk out on its own like cartoon ants exiting a picnic.
So I exit, stand on the edge of my back porch, stare at my Hill Country view, and remind myself how lucky and blessed I am. I look at my yard, notice how it needs mowing and weeding and how it’s turning brown under the relentless heat. I think about how desperately we need rain, and I walk back inside, to my bedroom, and collapse into my bed, even though it’s only three or four in the afternoon. I do that because I’ve got nothing left inside me to give.
As I lie there in the cool quiet, I realize that is exactly what I need – cool, quiet. I thank God for the moment of peace. It’s been so long since my mind has been able to rest. I know I’m repeating myself, but I am so frigging tired; I am lost.
I want to be lost on the beach where my mind can wash in and out with the waves. I want to taste the salt sea water on my lips. And I want to lie in a king-sized bed with white Egyptian cotton sheets, a friend’s arms wrapped around me as a way to say it’s going to be okay, while I weep for my characters lost. But I know that’s not going to happen. I won’t let it because I know that in truth I have no reason to weep. I’ve just written the best book of my life. And maybe that’s the real reason I want to weep. Victory can bring us to tears.
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Addendum: As some of you may have noticed, I wrote my sex memoir. Yes, this book isn’t just a look at Americans’ alternative sex practices, as originally planned. At my editor’s request, it’s been turned into a memoir. That changed has made this not only the best book I’ve ever written, but the most difficult, honest , and self-revealing. So the tears I won’t allow myself to weep aren’t just tears of grief and victory. They’re tears of fear too as I worry about how my family, friends, fans, and freelance employers will react.
But strangely enough, as I typed the words “victory can bring us to tears,” I looked out my window. And this is what I saw.
I’m hoping this rainbow is a sign that all is going to be okay with my sex memoir.