I learn new things every day, about who I am as a person, about who I am as a person who writes, about who I am as a person who worries herself into such a state she can barely even write and then complains about it. For example:
If you have a book contract you will need an author photo. Thus, you should probably get working on that when the contract goes through and not be caught off guard when the publisher emails asking for it, as I was, especially if you are uncomfortable in front of a camera and have nothing to use. A very wise person—she knows who she is—told me to try getting a photo taken by someone who loves me and finds me beautiful. That someone became E. We did three separate photo shoots up on the roof of our apartment building. In each one I got more and more relaxed. His patience—with me, with the sun, with our flawed digital camera—was astounding, and I have now chosen the photo to send in. I’ll wait for the publisher’s response before showing it. I’m not sure if it’ll be on the book or not. But I’ll describe it for you: My hair is down (even though it’s usually up during the day, I feel most myself when it’s down). It’s a bit of a mess, but I don’t care. On my face is the faintest hint of a smile, no grimace. I’m looking straight at the camera, well, really, I’m looking straight at E. Maybe you really can look almost beautiful when the person who finds you beautiful is the one doing the looking. I hope the photo is acceptable to the publisher; I’ll get a test print made and then send it in next week.
Email your writer friends back. They may inspire you. (And I’m not the only one to think so.) I’ve been letting my email inbox pile up to such heights that I tend to panic when I look at it. But there was one email, especially, that I wanted to write, to a fellow writer I’ve known since college—he knows who he is—and I kept putting it off because it didn’t deserve a one-line, dashed-off response. It deserved a patient, honest response. It deserved, well maybe not the anxious rant it turned out to be, but it deserved time, something real. I wrote to him yesterday. He wrote me back. And somehow I feel energized by it. To hear how he’s working on his novel, and know I’m here working on my novel. These novels, they can be solitary pursuits where it feels like you’re in it all by yourself and no one understands and there’s no way out, but that’s not true. Chances are you know quite a few people in it too. So take the time to say hi to them.
Don’t you give up on that lost shoe. I lost a writing slipper about a month ago, one from the pair I bought in Chinatown, and I scoured everywhere looking for it. I finally determined that I must have, somehow, dropped it in the street when I was carrying it in my bag between home and my weekend writing spot. So I’ve been writing without my slippers, and I’ve felt off somehow, imbalanced. Like, I buy a pair of $3 Chinatown slippers and I can’t even keep a hold of them? How am I going to finish this novel! Yes, dramatic and irrational, all from the loss of one shoe. Then last night I was home at my computer, and I happened to look down. And there, on the floor beneath the very table where I sit every night, was my lost writing slipper. I don’t know how I didn’t see it all this time. Now it’s on my foot, and I finished one chapter today and wrote an entire other one. (Don’t freak. This book has short chapters; I’m not that prolific.) But listen. Sometimes the thing you lost comes back to you at just the right moment. Sometimes you haven’t lost what you think you lost at all. Sometimes, take a moment, look down: it’s been there all along.
It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m trying to tackle another chapter. I have been photographed, I’ve emailed, and I have on my shoes. What more could I ask for (except a month off from work to write my book, but that’s a whole other story)?
Either way, lessons learned and filed away for later, or for the next time I lose a shoe.