Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the Moment

By Amy

The clarity of that moment comes to me now. I was working at the Massachusetts State House, waiting for the ancient elevator to carry us down four flights, when it struck me that I would never be pregnant a first time again. So many days and weeks had been spent trying to hurry along the process so I could hold a baby -- my baby -- in my arms instead of just my heart; I couldn't wait. I was through with feeling ill and exhausted, having my hair and complexion sapped of all luster. But standing there, I felt her squirm and was imbued with wonder. It was then I cupped my belly and tried to slow time. Cherish this, I thought.

For years, since childhood really, I'd wanted to be a mother. I read and read about all the different ways my body would change, exactly how that new life would appear at each stage inside my womb, the quirks and symptoms that go along with pregnancy. I knew what to expect. If you've ever been through it, then you're probably laughing by now. There are no words to describe just how relentless morning sickness can be. No one ever tells you how a miscarriage presents until it comes to pass. The overwhelming fatigue and instantaneous passion for someone who isn't yet fully realized can't be found in a how-to manual. But you have a vision nonetheless, a shadowy sense of what it is you're creating.

There are a million and one different paths a pregnancy can take. Many are spiritual, some terrifying, others are much too unpleasant to ever be discussed. There's a general template to be sure, but there are a plethora of variables, not one journey.

You know where this is going. If you're in the process of writing your first book, the one you know in your heart will be the one -- and you do know when it's the one -- cherish the process. There is only one first time. Enjoy the writing; as difficult as it may sound, wallow in the revisions; make an adventure of obtaining an agent; and when you do, feel at peace when it goes on submission. It takes a long time to grow a book. Savor the good and desperate times alike. It will all be sweeter for it.

My baby is a teen now and beautiful beyond even I imagined. If I allow it, quiet everything within me, I can transport myself back to that time by the elevator. A crystalline moment when I held her inside of me and she was mine alone, not yet of this world, vulnerable to its interpretations and shaping.

It will be the same for each of us with our books, I think. Someday, not long from now, though it will feel a lifetime, we'll find ourselves looking back and being thankful for having that moment of clarity to hold close. Enjoy.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lovely, Amy. Just lovely. You capture it all exactly. The terror, the wonder, the overwhelming love and joy. All the unknowns.

Thanks for this.

kristen spina said...

Amy, this is just perfect. Right now, to me, the writing is the best part. It is the only part of this entire journey that I will be able to control. Writing the first draft is solely mine. After that, well--opinions, ideas, thoughts, theories--the world steps in. Thanks for the reminder. This, I know, is my time. And the rest? I guess we'll see.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Judy, you would know after the success of All the Numbers. I'd love to hear how different writing that second book has been for you. More confident? Scared? It's all a rush to be sure.

Exactly, Kristen! Isn't it kind of odd to imagine how others will try to classify your book? We do it to children all the time, affix labels as if kids are so simple or even static. Enjoy what you can control, accept the rest.


Gail said...

Great post Amy... the mothering and the writing, how pure the love, how difficult to stop and cherish. Thanks for reminding us.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Gail, you and Kristy Kiernan were the ones to tell me to stop and cherish. Thanks to both of you, I did. I hope you're breathing easier knowing Cancer is a Bitch will be welcomed by the world next September. I truly cannot wait to read it and wish I were one of your readers.


Carleen Brice said...

Beautiful. Makes me want to read your book ASAP!

Thank you for the reminder to slow down and really be in the now...no matter what the now is.

T. Forkner said...

A beautiful article, Amy. The mothering of Writing. I like it.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Carleen, yes, in the moment. Like when you went to the Grand Canyon, stayed in the moment, and just let go of it all. Then magic happened. Same goes for Orange Mint & Honey, I can't wait!

Thank you, Tina. I'm not surprised this resonates with you considering Ruby Among Us is about a mother and daughter. Funny how motherhood permeates everything.


Larramie said...

Truly inspired, Amy. There are so many wonderful "firsts" in our lives...IF only we could remember them all!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Thank you, Larramie. I remember the best ones, don't you? And the worst.


mohanley5 said...

Beautifully written. So nice to see you at Grub.

Lisa said...

This is such a perfect analogy. There are the books, the workshops, the classes, the conversations, the shared blog posts and they all contribute, but the first book is something that we are ultimately alone with and we commune with our characters and places and story in a way that truly belongs only to us. At some time, yes, the plan is to open this all up to plenty of people and forces beyond my control, but for just now, I do cherish this time. Thank you for reminding me of how special it really is.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Mo, is was great to see you, too. I had a fantastic time at Taste of Grub and was so pleased to win a signed Copy of Anita Diamant's tenth anniversary edition of The Red Tent. This is a book I've been in love with for so many years and to finally meet its author is a dream come true. She is brilliant, by the way, and her next book sounds as though it will be similar to Tent. Bet you all can't wait!

Exactly, Lisa. When you're writing that first book, you write only for the story. You don't worry what your agent will say, your editor doesn't care about plot points, all that matters is devoting yourself to the expectationsof the story - no one else's. It's a gift. Enjoy this time.