Saturday, August 15, 2020

A Book-Shaped Hole in My Heart

Life progress report: I finished a full draft of my verse novel. I completed a round of extensive revisions from brilliant writing-group comments. I saw a career record broken in the speed with which it was read by my agent, sent on to my editor, and accepted for publication. It's now on my editor's desk awaiting her unfailingly mega-brilliant comments. 


Or rather. . . hooray? I loved writing that book more than I've ever loved writing anything. Every single hour I spent working on it was an hour of bliss, bliss that permeated the other twenty-three hours of each day, casting a soft radiance over months of COVID isolation and online-teaching frustration.

Now I miss that hour a day of bliss. 

Now I have a book-shaped hole in my heart.

I do have plenty of other projects I can do, of course.  Reviewer comments have arrived on my desk for a children's lit article I submitted back in April. Reviewer Number Two, in particular, suggested plenty for me to do. Here is just ONE ACTUAL REPRESENTATIVE QUOTE from the review, in case any other scholars out there have ever felt discouraged by a reviewer's response to their work: "One of the key issues the author should address in revision is the essay's overall lack of purpose and cohesion" (!!!!!!). 

For some reason, these comments are not giving me a blissful feeling. 

I have two other academic assignments in the works, and an idea for a picture book biography about somebody I adore, but whom six-year-old readers are exceedingly unlikely to care about. I should also do a bunch of pesky promotional stuff to support my two poor little books that are coming out this year in the middle of a pandemic.

These projects have their appeal, but even the picture book biography (where the text would be only a thousand words max) isn't really going to fill a book-shaped hole in my heart. In fact, I'm coming to realize that this hole in my heart has an oddly specific shape: it's not only a book-shaped hole, it's a verse-novel-shaped hole.

It's well known that a hole in one's heart can't just be stuffed full with any old thing. A hole in your heart caused by an absence of love can't be filled by more gin-and-tonics. A hole in your heart caused by a dearth of meaning in your life can't be filled by more Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers. (Even though gin-and-topics and apple turnovers are both highly excellent things.) I don't think there is any hole in anybody's heart that has ever been filled by wrestling with comments from Reviewer Number Two!

So, sad but true, I guess I'm going to have to fill this verse-novel-shaped hole in my heart by groping toward, yes, another verse novel. 

Or actually, not sad but true, but happy and true.

Sometimes, after all, a true thing can be a happy thing, too.

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