The distractions of summer are more welcome than ever. While I publicly lament the loss of productivity thanks to shuttling girls to and from camps and friends' houses, I am secretly glad of the lack of time to sit and write. The truth is, I am stuck, and the questions themselves are a painful thicket of barbs and dry stems through which I am loathe to travel just yet.
A few months ago, I had renewed interest in my manuscript from a publicist/agent. We spent several glorious hours on the phone discussing the nature of the project and its importance to me as well as, we agreed, the importance to everyone interested in women's rights and reproductive issues. She promised to review the most current draft and we scheduled a series of phone interviews between the two of us to solidify the content for the introduction to the book. She has contacts at several publishing houses as well as a knowledge of self-publishing and I felt my excitement rise, envisioning a book in my hand as soon as winter. Finally.
The interviews were postponed. Changed at the last minute. Eventually, cancelled altogether. She cited serious health issues and I agreed to give her space to work them out and wait for her return. But without her interest in the project, her enthusiasm and gentle guidance, I am floundering. I have retreated to that place I have been in so many times before: me and the work. I no longer have any rational perspective. At this point, I have been working on this book in some form or another for nine years, interviewing, writing, researching, re-writing, editing, submitting. I know the subject is relevant, but I no longer have any sense of direction or understanding where I am in the scope of the Universe. I am sitting in the middle of a kayak in the ocean with no land in sight and no clue which way to go. I have an oar, but I am probably just setting out in ever-widening circles without some frame of reference.
Several times over the past month I have set out to re-write the introduction myself, send copies of the manuscript to fellow writers for their 'blurb' and attempt to re-submit to publishers. I have convinced myself that, if this agent was interested, others will find the redeeming qualities in it, too. It is just a matter of finding the right fit. But the notion is truly exhausting. I have been down this road before and what I was looking for was a partner who knew the path to walk beside me. Instead, she pulled me down the road with her in her enthusiasm and then left me, saying she would be back soon. I would like to muster up the energy to continue on without her but, honestly, without another person who is as excited about this body of work as me, it's tough.
So much has changed since I started writing that book. I am still as passionate, if not more, about women being able to tell their stories without shame. I still believe that we need to have open, honest discussions about the ways in which women and girls are subjected to an entirely different standard than men and boys are and how that affects us all. What has changed is my writing, my confidence in telling my own stories, and my willingness to subject myself to the social media publicity machine. I created a website for the book and started a Facebook page, but I am woefully unable to keep up the schedule of harnessing interesting news items and resources to populate them with. I am simply not interested in continually updating, reTweeting, and refreshing pages with information. I want to go back to the days where a writer wrote diligently and purposefully, threw his or her work out into the world, and then went back to write some more. The idea that I could publish this book and then be sucked in to promoting it over and over again, going on a speaking circuit or showing up at virtual locations where the topic is salient, Tweeting and writing pithy Facebook blurbs that are related, and become branded the writer who writes about reproductive rights gives me hives. I love this subject. I am invested in it. But I love to write about other things, too. I love to write.
So while I sit and puzzle this all out - wondering whether or not I have the wherewithal to push yet again to complete another draft of this manuscript and go through the motions of marketing it - there are days where I find myself sitting quietly at the computer wishing that Eve and Lola would come beg me to go for a walk or a picnic with them. I am dreading the start of school because it will force me to sit down and write, or decide to finally let this project sit where it is forever. I can't imagine doing either of those things, frankly, but I'm not sure where the middle road is.