I’ve spent the first few weeks of the new year looking for comfort in the uncertainty. It’s not possible, really, to find your footing when so much is unknown and so many decisions loom ahead. From the mundane to the monumental, I feel the weight of things that will soon need to be resolved.
There is a shifting in the ground underfoot. What I have known is becoming less true. The earth feels soft, less certain, harder now to navigate.
I think all families come to this, a natural winding down of a routine that has been constant for years. A change in job status, a child going off to college, a death, an aging family member in need of attention and care; there is something familiar, at least, about the worries that catch my breath.
And because I can’t — at least not now — find a way to prioritize and plan, I let my mind wander and I remind myself to simply breathe. For someone who needs to control and resolve things, this is maybe the hardest part, this sitting in the open space of the unknown.
I have an idea for a new novel. It’s embryonic, but I think there’s something there. I see it as a young adult story, a coming of age piece, and because I live with two experts in the subject matter, I ran it by my husband and son. They both approved.
I learned many important lessons in the aftermath of writing my first novel. I learned that I can write, that my words move people, but the harder lesson to learn was that the writing matters almost not at all if there isn’t a story to tell. I didn’t get far with my first attempt. The story fell apart, the narrative had too many holes, I couldn’t put the puzzle together. It sits now in a folder on a flash drive tucked away in a fireproof box in the attic.
My approach this time will be different. A loose outline to start; something I resisted in the past. For the next few days (and maybe weeks) I will simply try to sit with it, to run the story like a film in my head until I know it by heart.
I will imagine the possibility, and hold it in the open space of the unknown.