Friday, May 16, 2008

Looking Forward

It's over.

Just over a year ago, as I suffered away in the heat of Iraq, I turned to writing for comfort. Not this blog, which over time had come to serve as an echo for my own daily miseries. No, I began to write a book, a novel for young adults. It featured a young girl, the daughter of a poor woodworker, and it soon enveloped my life. It started off as a simple escape, and it grew into something so much greater.

It was this project that drew me away from the blog. Over time, the troubles of maintaining an account of war had become too taxing, and so it was to this world, much like the one of my youth, that I retreated. I bound my fate to the fate of this little girl. Like myself, this girl, too, suffered. Like myself, this girl felt trapped in a place she didn't belong. But unlike myself, this girl possessed the strength to endure, to survive. She not only endured in that place, but flourished. She became a hero to the people she loved, and it was in her journey that I, too, found salvation.

For a year, I worked at this. For a year, this was my true purpose, my true duty. Now flash forward. Two days ago, on a humid Thursday evening, I placed the final touches on a work that has sustained me for over 12 months. I have done it: I have finished my first book. It is my pride, my joy, and I am truly pleased with it, moreso than any of my other writings, even this blog. I cannot describe the rush of emotions I feel.

A part of me is thrilled. It is hard not giving into that sense of accomplishment. I have created a world, shaped it, breathed life into its characters, grown to love them. I laughed at their exploits, and cried over my desk at their sorrows. I literally wept as I described the death of Indigo. And just with that mourning, there is this too: grief. I am profoundly sad, empty in a way I did not expect. As Alina said, "it is over." It is over. My time in this world has come and passed. I can no longer be a part of their lives, and this pains me. What am I to do with this?

It is over. And yet, there remains yet much to be done. I didn't survive Iraq to let this part of me waste away in the shadows. No, this is my passion, my dream. Now I have to prepare. I have to cast my nets, search the waves for the promise of a bounty. I have to search for an agent. I have to comb my work, refine it. I have to search, have to keep looking even if it threatens to tear me apart. I have never been one to believe in Fate, or purpose, but if I have such a thing then this is truly it. This must be why I came back.

I am afraid: afraid of not succeeding, afraid of letting this thing I have created from love slip away into the darkness. I am afraid that I will look upon this thing, years from now, and have failed in what I intended. It scares me, indeed paralyzes me. But I cannot be deterred. This is what I must do, and there is no avoiding it. With Anne at my side, I will work at it forever, if necessary. And at the same time, in spite of that fear, I am also hopeful. It is hard to describe--fail or no, I did it. I put talk to action. I quote Edgar Allen Poe:

"Ride boldly, ride' the shade replied,
If ye seek for El Dorado."

Though the quest be long, and possibly fruitless, I have ridden where none dare. And in this, I am given hope for myself, for what I can do. This, more than any understanding of craft, is the most important lesson of all.

I cannot say what happens next. But I look forward eagerly.


Blogger Hayden said...

Congratulations! It's a wonderful, special feeling - I know your heart is filled with your characters. Is there room to revisit them? Not a sequel, necessarily, but another story from the same world?

12:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. Congratulations! I will send positive thought waves to agents! Good luck!

3:28 PM  
Blogger cinnabari said...

Congrats on finishing. I hear ya, all the way--the mourning period, the pride, the anxiety about selling what is, essentially, your heart and soul. Best wishes for the great agent hunt...

12:14 AM  
Blogger Army Sergeant said...

Congratulations! Sorry I've been so behind.

7:12 AM  

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