Ten days ago, I sent off my completed memoir for a manuscript assessment. I have been working on this project consistently since January 2019. It has, however, occupied my thoughts for many years before I was ready write the first sentence.
For someone who has devoted years to this project, the past ten days have felt like an eternity. Does it have merit? How many more edits will it require before I can approach a publisher? Where do I even begin with this next chapter of letting my manuscript go? And the most important question of all – what now?
For three years, I have conducted research, worked on individual scenes, pursued emerging patterns and themes. Several times I have read the manuscript cover to cover and have cut and polished and cut some more. Through this process I have jettisoned some 20,000 words to distil it to its essence. I don’t know whether I have succeeded.
I have put my heart and soul into writing. There were months when words dried up like ink in a misplaced pen. The less I wrote, the more arid my inner landscape became. Then I found my way to a state of flow through the London Writers’ Salon. Once I committed to writing daily, the words cascaded on the page and I completed my first, second and third drafts. I fantasised about working part-time to devote more energy to writing. I wanted a new rhythm to my days and spend happy hours in companionable silence over Zoom with writers from around the world.
But what now? As I am approaching the end of this project, I feel something akin to grief. What if I have nothing more to say? What do I do then? For someone who has the urge to write each day, this is a distressing thought. I have nursed and watched my memoir grow, but it is time to let this fledgling find its wings. When it does, I will have to let it go.
I have no idea how any of this works. Perhaps I need to have more faith. Perhaps I simply need to show up each day. Or perhaps the muse only visits those who have an empty nest to offer.