Billy Collins has a poem about working on a poem and then talking about it before it was finished, only to watch it get up and walk away. I know how he feels. Then there are other times when it helps to get it out in the open like a promise that needs to be kept, and talking about it can help it happen.
I’ve been working on a book for a while now. The earliest notes and drafts I have go back to the summer of 2016. I was hoping to have it finished by the end of that year. That didn’t happen. I circled around the next year; it didn’t happen then, either. I have been chasing this thing down for three years now. This book has had a longer gestation period than an elephant.
I would love to tell you I have been writing the whole time, but that has been part of the problem. The reasons why I have not written regularly are myriad. What matters is I wasn’t doing it. The energy I have found in getting back to blogging regularly has ridden side-saddle with trying to figure out what I need to do or change to create space to write. I figured out that space was both literal and metaphorical.
One of the signature stories in my life comes from watching my nephews play soccer when they were little boys. Scott, the youngest, was about five, which meant a soccer game was a gang of kids huddled around the ball moving up and down the field. My brother said Scott’s team was the best in the league because of one piece of advice the coach gave them.
“If you don’t have the ball,” he said, “don’t run to the ball. Run to open space and let the ball find you.”
I have come back to that advice a number of times in my life since then. It showed up again this week. I have been looking for a place to write where I can leave my stuff out and come back to it. Our house does not have a room like that. The barn is not temperature controlled. My “desks” are at one end of the dining table or in the window seat at the Marketplace. Both of those are good for my editing work and other projects, but not for the book.
I came across Guilford Co-Working last week, a place quite literally across the street from our house that rents places to work. I contacted the owner and he told me he had a client who only used his office a couple of days a week, and not all day at that, and was looking for someone to share the space. Just like that, I have a room of my own—or at a least enough of one to write. I took a picture of my desk.
After I finished my editing for the day, I went over there today for the first time and wrote for two and a half hours. What that means is, with the work I have done already, I should have a complete draft in early September and a new book to share with the world about this time next year. I feel good about saying it out loud because it is within reach.
At first, I thought I was writing a grief book about what I learned after my father died. Though that is still there in many ways, one of the things I learned about grief is that it is a universally shared experience, so that book has become one about how we are all connected—a central theme in my life all along the way. The book will be titled The Color of Together: Metaphors of Connectedness.
Believe me, I will keep you posted. Stay tuned.
Same advice I gave my young futbol players. So many metaphors for life in the game. We’re all dependent upon each other, no matter how outstanding any single player may be; even the best sometimes slip and fall like on a banana peel without warning; and of course, be prepared to do your bit when the ball comes to you, no matter how small it might seem – it may be your one chance in the whole game, and you will know what to do.
A new book in the works? That’s the best news I’ve heard all day!
I come back to This Must Be the Place again and again – and not just for the Lemon-Basil-Ginger cookie recipe (although those are the perfect accompaniment).
Will there be recipes in The Color of Together?
Still figuring that out, Jane. 🙂
Yes! You’ve got this, Milton. Love your process and watching it change over the years. And a place of one’s own – a must!
Dear Milton, I am excited to hear about the book, especially as I now know the title! I really get how the space to write and leave it there are so important.
Thanks for the “catching up” post. Nice to know something about your daily routine. We miss you in so many ways.
You are one of the BEST writers I’ve ever read!! From the MOOSE to Communion! Love you man!
Glad you have your space (I remember that building), and we look forward to the book!