Finishing a book

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The hard thing about finishing a book is that you continue to want to tinker with the thing and it’s hard to let go of it. You keep thinking about it and you aren’t sure if it’s perfect. Ursula LeGuin, when I read with her, she told me that her favorite part of writing a book is that tinkering part at the end. She says that she loves playing with it. It drives me crazy this tinkering. I want it to be done. I want to know that the book is well and over and that it is perfect, and I’m not sure so I keep tooling with it, hoping to see that the shape is perfect. Being a sculptor would be easier, you’d make a pot or a vase, a head or the shape of a man. It seems like that would be easier, you’d look at the shape you’d made in your hands and it would be perfect and done. Like when God made the world. It was finished and he saw that it was perfect. I’m not that visual of a person. I don’t remember what people are wearing. I like words better than pictures, but I still think that it would be a lot easier to look at a painting or a sculpture or a piece of furniture and know that it was done than a book, a poem or a story. Words can be tweaked, punctuation can be messed with. When are you actually finished?

I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s collection of short stories, Stone Mattress, and each of them seems entirely perfect to me. But she’s a master. She knows what she is doing with language, words, story. I’m nearly finished the book, and the stories are dark, strange and wonderful. Some writers feel very distant, and I’m climbing a mountain to get there. Calvino’s like that. I love him, but he’s on a whole other plane but I like visiting that plane. Atwood feels like I’m listening to my own heartbeat. Her stories are stories that when I enter, I feel the storied language of my own heart. Yes, I think, I hear you, I understand, this works, this is the story of everything. These stories are finished.

I have a book to finish. It’s very close. How do you look into the face of your own words and say, It’s done? You just have to let go. Let the book walk away on its own legs. Its delicate legs barely touching the ground as it walks out the door. Out to find its place in the universe. And then it will begin to fly. Thin legs, but filmy beautiful wings, delicate and transparent, (you can see the sun through them) but very strong. My book will fly.

Published in: on January 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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