The Ending. Has it been a day or a week?
Our last meal together. I was really cognizant that it was all ending today, so everything felt sad to me. A lot of these people I’ll never see again. If I’m lucky, I’ll see a few of them again some time, but who knows when? And we’ll never be in this moment in time together ever again.
And then we went upstairs and Don spent this last bit of time covering a hodge-podge of topics that didn’t really fit anywhere else. First lines, pitching. My first line apparently doesn’t work. But better than that, I know how to fix it now! Pitching is another challenging skill set and I was happy he went over it. I’m not there yet with my manuscript but it was definitely good practice.
Then we had time for a Q&A to ask after anything we hadn’t felt was answered yet. I asked after my performance anxiety and I was a mix of pleased and annoyed because Don suddenly sounded like my therapist. If you feel overwhelmed, break it down. A novel is broken down into chapters, into scenes, into pages, paragraphs, and sentences. Take one step at a time. Lorin also added to this that writing as a habit helps tremendously in relieving the pressure because you never leave it alone and the idea of it doesn’t build, you never grow disconnected from it. So while this week was amazing, and I have lots to look back at and work on (and work on again, and then again…) that was the biggest tool they gave me for any and all of this. Piece by piece, break it down, and build the habit.
I also really liked that Lorin pointed out that no matter how your day is going or how you’re feeling, that never really shows up in the quality of your writing. Go back and look at something you wrote months ago and you won’t be able to tell if that was a great day or a horrid day. It was simply a day you took the time to write. The idea that it’s a neutral space really hit me. It’s one of those things I think we inherently know, but when someone says it to you like that, it gives it new meaning and power. A bit Wizard of Earthsea, but true nonetheless.
After many many hugs and farewells, I did have a last few seconds with Don, where I asked him for some magic. I needed a little of my own hero cycle. So I asked him to look at me and tell me I could do this. And he gave me a giant smile and said, “Of course you can do this!” and hugged me. It might have been sappy. Possibly a bit pathetic. But there are people we admire and respect for what they do and have given the world. Don is one of those people for me. And no matter how human this week has proved him to be, with his great anecdotes and walking amongst us, I’ll always have a healthy sense of awe where he’s concerned. So knowing that, I asked him for something so simple but it will be extremely powerful for me to have and remember during those darker days we all have.
Donald Maass told me I could do this.
Now I’m going to post this so I don’t make myself cry in the middle of the Charlotte Airport. Oh, how I’m going to miss this incredible step out of time.