By Kate A Boorman
(and if you think I'm not singing that Arcade Fire song in my head as I title this blog post then THINK AGAIN)
So. I was cleaning my 5yr old "Going for the Gold in the Packrat Olympics" daughter's room yesterday. After hours of resorting, dusting, reorganizing, cleaning, recycling, I carefully explained to her my organizational system and how she could use it to keep her room tidy (she listened to me carefully, eyes wide, most likely hearing the teacher from Charlie Brown--waaah, waaah waaah waaah waaah) and then I stood back to survey my work.
I felt an overwhelming sense of..... the opposite of accomplishment. Not failure, just.... as though I had done something to the best of my abilities that didn't actually result in anything that could be qualified as "finished."
I feel this way much of the time, but this is the way it is with parenting, I think. I have yet to feel that "whelp, I'm all done HERE" in regards to anything that has to do with my kids because, duh, they're little and also I don't know very much, but more than that: the job of keeping them safe and healthy and happy and yadda yadda is NEVER OVER. The laundry will reappear, the pantry will need to be restocked, they will have that nightmare tomorrow night too, my daughter will earnestly listen to me and then destroy her room in about an hour flat. It comes with the territory.
As I stood gazing at her multi-coloured domain (the walls are a colour I like to call "Lalaloopsy Vomit") I realized this is pretty well the way it is with writing, too.
It's never over if you plan to make a career of writing. You can't publish one book and call it a day: you want to get better at your craft. You have other books to write, other territories to sell. You want to win an award or two. You want to sell the film rights to your 5th novel. Whatever it is, there will always be a 'something more'; you aren't finished until you are finished (read: 6ft under). Right?
What's weird is that, for me, the sense of finishing something also feels a bit elusive.
WINTERKILL is 'finished'. I can't do anything more to it; it doesn't even belong to me anymore. ARCs are out in the wild and it is headed to the printers and it comes out in September and that is that. And yet when people ask me about that sense of accomplishment ("don't you feel good about having finished a book?") I.... honestly don't know what to say. Like: "I'm never going to read it in 'finished' form because I'll find lines I'd like to change?" (them: "So?"). "That world lives in my mind so it's never ever over?"(them: O__o ).... it's hard to place why I don't feel "whelp, I'm all done HERE", but I do.
To be clear, I'm proud of my book: I wrote the book my heart spoke (and I even sometimes listened to the grammar tips my brain whispered), and I am thrilled when people enjoy it.
But I also feel as though I did something to the best of my abilities and it's only a piece of a continual journey onward.
The silver lining? There are no errant My Little Pony combs mixed in with tiny little wooden beads mixed in with LEGO to negotiate on this NEVER OVER writerly journey.
(P.S. In case you're wondering what a Lalaloopsy is, it's the doll pictured here. In case you're wondering what it looks like when it vomits, it's the wall behind the doll. I'm pretty sure.)
Kate's alternate history thriller WINTERKILL releases September 9th, 2014.