The New Book

I have no idea what it’ll be about, but I can feel it coming.

I can feel its rumble the same way you can feel a thunderstorm before it arrives. The air is electric.  The inevitable is on the horizon, and there is an exquisite anticipation.

I have no idea what the book will be about, and that’s the exciting part. The story is being coy, making its presence known but only in snippets and hints, like a child playing hide & seek, giggling madly behind the curtains, hoping to not be found but still shouting out clues when they think the adults have strayed too far.

It comes out in introductions — character studies breezing past my mind, these hypothetical people so loud in their presence that I’ll lose my wording in class or glaze over what someone else — someone actual and real — is saying. Handfuls of these introductions, and I never know if I’m meeting someone new, or if I’m learning something new about a previous character — and, if so, which one.

It gives life and proof to Elizabeth Gilbert’s idea about ideas — that they are not things we create so much as creatures in and of themselves, existing in another realm, making themselves known to hosts who prove worthy enough to flesh them out, or drifting away when they feel they’ll be of better use elsewhere.

Perhaps this is the probationary period. The interview, proving that I want the job and I’m up to the task.  The employer teasing out my abilities and capabilities after contacting me for the gig in the first place.

It’s in stark contrast to my previous book — a book that came hurdling out, that refused anything less than complete fruition. A book whose first draft was written in a dizzying six weeks, my life a flurry of notes and scribbles and tossed out ideas and thousands upon thousands of words. A book I wrote simultaneously possessed by and exorcising a demon. A book I finished and went, “This is it. This is my best work yet.” And what few friends I’ve lent it to agree — there’s something special about this one.  It has the potential to shine unlike anything else I’ve written.

There’s a part of me that chuckles at this new one, though, this ethereal and elusive idea. I have three unpublished manuscripts waiting in the wings — one of which I’m hoping to finalize and independently publish by the end of winter. There’s a collection of poetry that I’m slicing together, another idea that refuses to stay quiet, an idea that has demanded me as its host — backed by the publishing arm of a website I write for that has always been willing to give my collections a shot.

But it’s feast or famine, I’ve noticed, and I’ll gladly take the floods and swim with the eddies. It’s these moments of pure and bursting ideas — when I’m surreptitiously jotting down notes as my students rest in savasana, when I can’t get to my car fast enough because there is more to write out — that make the sun a little brighter and the lines a little crisper. Where it all feels right and purposeful and I wonder why it can’t always feel this light, this easily swept along. A temporary stay against the confusion of the world, as Frost would say.

So I wait for the book. I’ll let it be coy — a scene idea here, a new character there — and draw it out in its own time. It knows where I live, knows where I go. It knows my patterns in maddeningly familiar ways.  When it’s ready, it’ll make itself known — or perhaps just known enough so that I know where to lay down the bait, and lure it out bit by bit, word by word, idea by idea.

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