73,000 words, 15 chapters, 11 months, 76 interviews, 269 iced coffees, 1 laid off editor, 5,732,495 iterations of “I can’t do this.”
And yet — it is done.
I no longer have an excuse to eat two cookies each night because IT IS DONE. I sent in my manuscript today.
I’m neither the first person to write a book nor the last, I know, but I feel special today. The feeling of accomplishment is real and intense. Those pages will be in the Library of Congress. Forever. I love my radio stories, but they are ethereal. The Library of Congress, though, is forever. I’ll be in there with The Great Ones of American and world literature. Forever. Which reminds me of something I said recently that I’d like to take back.
My mom forwarded me an article a couple of weeks ago titled The 35 Writers Who Run the Literary Internet. Above the link she wrote:
“Interesting and pertinent. Given your social media activity you should be on this list next year!-;)” (smiley face included)
My response: “Yeah I saw that. That’s for REAL writers. :)” (smiley face included)
Her reply: “You ARE a real writer. Hey, Sweetie, you’re writing a book for a major publisher!!!”
Other people have made this same point when I say I’m not a Writer. They also note that my byline has appeared in The New York Times. Several times. And that every broadcast script I read on air, I almost always … wrote!
The thing is I don’t dream of writing, and never have. I’m not that tortured soul burning to put my thoughts on a page and share them. I’m not that person who always had a novel languishing in the back of the closet, or a bit of non-fiction or anything else for that matter. But I suppose that’s a romantic idea of what a Writer is. I think 73,000 words in a row qualifies. So although I’m pretty sure my name won’t be on next year’s list of The 35 Writers Who Run the Literary Internet (I don’t like Twitter enough for that to happen anyway), I’m going to stop saying I’m not a Writer.
I AM a Writer.
And even if I don’t run the literary Internet, right at this moment it sure as hell feels like I could run the world!
Ok. A few other completely random thoughts before I go for my first post-submission drink:
1. If you happened to see me on the rare occasion I left my house this week, thank you for not saying anything about my slovenly appearance.
2. I ate a ridiculous amount of comfort food over the last 48 hours before I hit “send” on my manuscript (flash back to college papers written in the wee hours the day they were due?). If I never see another bowl of instant ramen, it will be too soon.
3. 20 years’ worth of daily and hourly deadlines do not prepare you for a year-long deadline. IF I ever write another book, I will suggest that they give me, say, two months to get it done, and I’ll think of it as a long series of top-of-the-hour newscasts.
4. I have had an astonishingly full and interesting work life. I always knew I had a cool job, but I never truly considered just HOW cool it was until I went through this exercise of reviewing my career — all the stories I’ve covered, people I’ve interviewed, and places I’ve been in the name of work. Even if it all stops right now, I am, and have been, fortunate in the extreme.
5. At some point it will hit me that I’ve written in large part about my own life and that, in about a year, that life will be on display for public judgment. For now, I’m pretending no one will ever read it.
6. At some point it will also hit me that since the heavy lifting of this part of the process is over, I have to grow up and get a job. For now, I’m pretending I have a secret safe filled with $100 bills in the attic.
7. The book won’t be out for a year, but I’ll be blogging and sharing stories here, at tessvigeland.com, up until then, and subscribers to my newsletter will have access to special content and pricing. So go sign up!
8. Two summers ago I wrote my resignation letter from Marketplace. One summer ago I wrote a speech that changed my life. And now I’ve written a book. I AM A WRITER. Damn. SMH.