This morning at 1:30am, I finished the 14th chapter of my memoir. I now have only four more chapters to write. I've been working on this project every Friday since January 2017 and the idea of finishing it makes me literally sick to my stomach with excitement.
But damn, these last chapters are kicking my butt. It used to take me 5 hours to write a chapter, now it easily takes 15+. The images, the ideas, the emotions used to pour out of me. I would sit at my cafe dripping tears all over my day-old chocolate croissant with my hands flying over the keyboard. Now I just sit and stare at the blank screen. No tears, no flying hands, no words. Just a sad lady with a sad day-old croissant.
The shit part is that I know what goes in those chapters. I know exactly what I want to say and how I want it to end. I've dreamed of writing those last couple words for almost two years and now I'm here with no motivation to write them.
Why is the writing getting harder?
>>> Because it's also getting deeper. I do this thing where I tell myself something is small because if I tell myself it's big, I'll get scared. So when I first set out to write this memoir, I just wanted to tell a simple story about going through a really tough experience and how it changed me. Pretty basic. I told myself that I was just writing down a couple memories so that I could give it to my kids when I was older. But as I got rolling, it became clear that a story without context doesn't have meaning, it doesn't have weight, and it's slightly untrue because too much is being unsaid. So my simple story about a tough year became a story about loneliness and the isolation of perfectionism, about family dynamics, about money and class and race and culture, about marriage and commitment, about bodies and sex. I know, HOLY SHIT, that's all the topics in the world!!!! Which means in every chapter, I'm having to decide how deep to go, how to shape the story, which lens to view this moment through.
>>> Because it's too hot. It's been 95 degrees for weeks. At night, Andrew and I are like those sticky bugs just stuck together. (I just tried to find a picture of sticky bugs that are stuck together to give you an example, but it turns out they don't exist except in my head). The heat makes me crazy because it's so hot in my office that I have trouble focusing. At night, I'm too hot to sleep so I stay up for hours reading advice columns, which means I'm even more tired the next day. This summer was supposed to be the Summer of the Memoir and now it's the Summer of the Meh. Or the Meltdown. Or the Summer of The Make the Fucking Heat Stop.
>>> Because now it feels real. I think part of the issue is that I didn't actually believe I was writing a memoir until I got this far. I tricked myself into thinking it was just a silly artsy hobby. Now that I've written 60K+ words and put so many hours into it (and some $$), it feels like a Real Book. This isn't just journal entries after all. This is Capital-W-Writing and with each chapter, I feel more and more pressure to improve the writing and to shape the narrative.
Also, sometimes I'm writing and I have this kind of awake-dream where I finish the book and then it's just so horrible and I have to come face-to-face with how much time and money I've invested in it and that it was all a narcissistic-fueled way to talk about myself.
"Why don't you just take a break?" Andrew asked me yesterday. "Work on something else for a while."
I've thought about it - a lot - and the idea of having a six or nine-month break from writing the memoir feels amazing. But I just know (in my hut) that if I stop writing, I will never finish it. And as much as I hate the thought of sitting down tonight to write Chapter 15, the idea of never finishing this project and having it continue to hang over my head scares me even more.