Swimming the Ocean

May 21, 2008

I believe writing a book is like swimming the ocean. At least, it feels that way. I swim and swim and swim, thinking I must surely be at the half-way point by now – but I look behind me and see that I am only about 500 yards off-shore. The pull of the tide pushes me in, then pulls me back out, so that I no longer have a sense of distance. My muscles ache and tire, the sun reflecting off the waves is blinding, yet I know I cannot give up. I allow myself to drift for a bit, and relax, but I cannot give up completely, lest I drown.

I’ve been working on a non-fiction book now for over six months, probably longer. I’m talking writing, here, not counting time doing research which is a whole different ballgame entirely. It’s like treading water. Even though I know I can’t write much more than maybe a couple of pages a night, on a good night, and maybe not much more than 10 total in a week – it feels so grindingly dullingly slowwww. And I’m talking about the process and progress here – not the reading-pace of the book. (It’s still a first draft anyway, and that comes later.)

The truth is, I’ve got probably 70-100 pages altogether, written – and so maybe I’m 1/3 or 1/2 way through the book, with however much more to go. But at this point, it so often seems like I will never, ever get finished – so much so that at times I’m tempted to say “forget it” and let my dream die. I know that this book is important to me, that it is something that I am truly passionate about – that it is one of the few things that can break through my daily cynicism and give me Purpose and Meaning.

So why is it that I find the going so difficult? That I can have an entire day stretched before me, just waiting to spend the endless hours writing — and not even begin to get started until 5pm? Or wail and thrash about, shuffling papers or surfing blogs and websites, and then wonder why I didn’t get anything done at all today?

I think writing must be like crossing the vast states of Tennessee, cross-wise, or Texas, in any direction, or going lengthwise up the coast of California. It takes forever!! And it’s usually when you are getting close to the end, when you feel the most like you’re never going to get there! But I’ve made enough road trips to know – you just have to keep going, you will get there!

Maybe it’s all in my perspective. I’m all wrong to think I’m swimming the ocean. I’m just a blind woman in a swimming pool, swimming in circles, and I don’t realize I’ve already traveled so far.

©2008 writingreading