I flew to Boston at the end of June to get together with a group of friends from college. Five years ago, this same group of women encouraged me to write, to collect my thoughts and stories of life and family and put them into a book. This was before I had the courage to call myself a writer, before I had left everything I knew to sit at my desk and put one word after another with the hope that they would serve as stepping stones to something else. I didn't make any big changes after that weekend together but I did begin to think that maybe, just maybe, I could write. In the five years since that weekend, I have been paid for my words and read my work on stage and wrote the manuscript that was nothing more than an idea at that time, nothing more than a dash of movement in the periphery of my vision.
So, before our reunion, I wanted to finish the second draft of my book. I wanted to take it to them and drop it onto the table like a 44,014 word thank you card. So, I worked harder than I normally do all through early June and a few days before I was set to fly out, I finished it. Rather than print out a copy and kill trees just for the visual, I loaded it on to my Kindle and took it with me and for some reason - boredom or self-indulgence - I read it on the plane. There are plenty of flaws and those were clear to me as I read but there were moments too when I thought, "Yes, that is exactly right." And I will admit I shed a few tears over my complimentary pretzels.
That first night together, we all sat around catching up and I told them I had finished my book and thanked them for their faith in me all those years ago. I had no bundle of paper to drop dramatically into our circle. It was quieter than that, gentler and even now, I worry that for all my skill with words, I didn't properly convey my gratitude.
My book now rest in the hands of a couple of trusted souls and I continue to be surprised by the vulnerability of giving your words to another. I worry I've spent too long on this, that there is not enough good to salvage. I worry that I will not have done the stories justice.
As Ann Patchett says in The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life,
"Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words."
While my book lived in my mind, it had unlimited potential but now that it lives outside of me, it has become imperfectly real. And now, I have to keep moving.