Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Validation, schmalidation

I had the most wonderful day yesterday! I was concerned, given the fact that I had been prone to anxiety, depression, that I might not be able to celebrate as wholeheartedly and purely as I so desparately wanted to. I worried that I might be upset by not having the book yet, or stressed about what people who have their copy might think of it, or a hundred other nameless, faceless anxieties. But, when the day came, it was absolutely fabulous.

The night before, James helped me come up with a ritual to perform in the morning. It felt important to me to do something different, especially since I couldn't hold the book. He suggested I write something, give thanks, and then I came up with the idea, inspired by the way people stuff messages in the Western Wall (down the road) to hang the written thanks note in one of our trees. I wrote it the night before, and yesterday morning, with my cup of tea, I went into the garden, read it quietly to myself, and hung it up. I think that must have set the tone for the whole day, I literally glowed. It was wonderful. (The large G&T last night definitely helped!)

But - and this is following on from last week's discussion on writers, even the big name ones, constantly needing validation - if you think that the fact that my book is enough validation for a month or even a week, think again! Turns out today I am back to my old self, wondering if lit mag X will want to publish my story, why competition Y hasn't announced its results yet.

However, this is not, I believe, I bad thing. If the book was enough, well then I would probably stop. I probably wouldn't write much, wouldn't send stories out. And that wouldn't really be being a writer. This way, with the old insecurities about whether anyone will like any of my recent stories rearing up (though most definitely not as strongly), I am spurred on to do the work. And it is work, it's all work. Luckily work that I love.

I was waiting for this book for 15 months because I felt I really needed to get it out so that all the 27 stories in it could be filed away under "Done". Ok, they are the past, now let's get on with the next thing, the next project. I can't wait to go on my writing retreat at La Muse in November and fill me head with new stories!


Sarah Hilary said...

I do envy you that retreat, Tania. What a wonderful way to clear your mind and start thinking about the next project! And the "giving thanks" ritual sounded lovely - nice one, James.

Douglas Bruton said...

What a beautiful image... I couldn't help but steal it... and now I gift it back to you in a short flash:


There are days she knows, or seems to know. Before they unfold. Before they are done. And these days Tania rises early, singing, her one tune threading through my thoughts and my dreams, like a bright ribbon, pulling me out of sleep. All the windows in the house she throws wide, letting in birdsong, and wind sometimes, and the sound of the world waking.

I call those days ‘glad’ and look forward to their coming, can sometimes feel a change in her signalling that things are better. Then, the night before, Tania lays a pad of paper and a pen on the small kitchen table, ready. Seeing them, I am certain.

There is a tree in the plot of ground that we call garden, twisted and never giving up flowers. But through all the months of the year it is hung with torn pieces of paper and every line holds thanks written in her child’s hand, thanks for the day ahead, knowing that those days will be brighter than the rest.

I rise in time to see Tania, stretched on tip-toe like a dancer, her arms in the air, lifted in hosanna, and Tania safety-pinning the notes she’s written to the fingers of the tree. The light is behind her and I can see her figure beneath the dress she wears, like seeing through frosted glass or half shut eyes, nothing sharp or precise. It is a good day, a glad day, and nothing can go wrong, or ever does, when Tania sings.

Lit Flood said...

A lovely ritual Tania and I can't wait to read the book. I'm off to buy one right now!

Congratulations x x x

Tania Hershman said...

Sarah, it was a lovely idea, I am so glad James helped me come up with something to do.

Douglas - what a beautiful flash, I am honoured to have inspired you, thank you. (Although the "Tania" obviously isn't me, you ain't heard me sing!)

Chelsey, thank you, thank you!