The book is finished. I’m bewildered, amazed, spent, ecstatic and grateful beyond speaking. After a decade working at it – tracing out miles of pencil lead over countless sheets of paper – and decades more than that researching it and living out its premises and preparing for the task of writing – it is finally done. For the first time in many years I am suddenly no longer someone who is writing a book. No more changes, corrections, edits or new perceptions to weave into it. And the funny thing is, I’m not being tugged at by regrets or desires to rework or add or delete. New Self, New World seems to have become what it needed to be. It has come to rest in itself. And now I begin a new chapter in my own life.
It’s been three and a half weeks since the manuscript was sent off to the printer, and that’s how long it’s taken me to begin to pull the neglected corners of my life back into the light, and into a semblance of order. The cord of wood at the side of the house has been split and stacked. The toilet repaired. My study excavated and two boxes of drafts and notes stashed away in the crawlspace (maybe someday an archivist will thank me, or perhaps the papers will just go up in flames over the course of a dark winter, starting evening fires. Either way, I’m content). When I first started the book (and I was ambushed by it, awakened in the night by its sudden arrival, and it wouldn’t let go, not even when the light of day appeared, not even when weeks turned into months) I talked with my wife about it and told her that if I worked on it full time, I thought I could have a first draft completed in about six weeks. I don’t know if there has ever in the history of writing been as grave an underestimation as that, but the fact is that if I had been told at the time how long it would actually take to complete, I would have said, “Forget it, then. I just can’t afford to.” Ignorance may not be bliss, but sometimes it’s a blessing.
Now that New Self, New World is wrapped, I’ll need some place into which my ideas and questions can be channeled, so I’ll be blogging on a regular basis. I note wryly that I wrote two blogs in ’08, and only one in ’09. Well, I was still in labour, bringing my book forth into the world. My fondest hope is that, once it arrives, it will strike up some close friendships, and initiate some rich conversations with its readers.