Yesterday afternoon, I suddenly started to get sick. Aching throat, runny nose, that sort of thing. Just a standard virus, but I was supposed to turn in a revised manuscript that day, and suddenly I couldn’t think straight. I had completed most of the revisions earlier, but I needed to go over the manuscript one more time, make sure everything was right. Because, in case you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a perfectionist. I’m not the sort of writer who can send out a manuscript, not caring whether the commas are in the right places. I don’t believe in getting it done and getting it out. I want it to be as perfect as it can possibly be.
So I emailed to ask for an extra day.
This morning I woke up and got to work. I didn’t feel well enough to change, so there I was in a pair of gray pajamas, sitting on the bed, reading over the manuscript while sucking on Ricolas and blowing my nose at regular intervals. And then sitting at my desk and typing in corrections, which required more Ricolas, more tissues. I finished and sent off the revised version around one in the afternoon. By then the cold had started to get better. I finally showered, dressed in jeans, a navy blue t-shirt and cardigan, and thought, what now? I was so tired that I couldn’t start another project, not right away. So instead, I got in the car and ran two errands. One was to test Coco Mademoiselle, because I had decided that I might like it as an alternative to Chanel No. 5, which is really for evenings when I go to the theater. (Which I have not done lately. Anyone who wants to take me to the theater, feel free to volunteer.) And because ever since I read her biography, I’ve been fascinated by everything Coco Chanel. This, by the way, is a sign I saw last week while walking up Commonwealth Avenue:
That was a frivolous enough errand for a day on which I was sick and had already put in a morning’s work. The second errand was to go to Barnes and Noble, just to walk around. I find that I learn a lot from just walking around in bookstores, both the independents and the large chains. It was nice to see books by friends of mine. And it gave me ideas too – for my own projects.
I know, that doesn’t sound like a very exciting day. And I have to admit that sometimes I get impatient. I feel as though I’m in the process of creating the life I want. But on days when I am sick, or lonely, or feel as though there’s no hand in the dark, nothing to hold on to, I wonder, when will it happen, when will I make it happen? And then I work on it some more. But some days, it’s difficult not to get despondent.
I’ll do it – I’ll change my life in the way I want to – because I’m persistent, and smart, and usually patient. But there are days when I get tired, and then I get impatient, and then I feel like doing something impulsive, getting on a plane and flying somewhere. It’s silly, I know. But there it is.
What I do instead is think about the life I want: the cottage I can write in, the friends I want around me and to collaborate with. The work I love doing. I know it’s possible, that my dreams are both achievable and realistic. It’s just that I get impatient and want it now, whereas I know there’s a timeline, and that I need to complete a series of tasks to get there. I’ll get through them. I just have to fight the good fight, one task, one deadline at a time.
After all, in this world all things change. And after darkness comes the light, just as after winter comes spring.