I’ve been hanging here on the cusp.
The wave before it breaks
The rim before the fall.
I’ve got a handful of pages left to finish my novel and I’ll be Huckleberry Finn, but it turns out the cusp is a prime spot to be.
It’s taken me nine years to get here. Nine years of literary gestation. There’s not a woman on this planet who would volunteer to carry a nine year fetus. If I’d have known it would take this long to create a single book I’d have never started.
There’s a lot I didn’t know in the beginning. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Schweet naivety, how glorious art thou. If we knew how much was ahead of us, innovation would become nonovation, inspiration would become fizzleation. Someone Upstairs sells us a truck load of determination, and points us down the garden path.
The truth is that I wasn’t capable of writing this story at thirty-two. I had events I had yet to experience, questions to ask, answers to find and fears to fall. My high school English teacher taught me that good characters evolve over the length of the story. This may be true for authors too. In the last nine years I’ve lost both my parents, experienced a huge spiritual boost, raised two kids, then found and settled into my calling. I’ve grown as much as my characters have.
In the book Outliers, The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the “10,000 Hour Rule”. He argues that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a phenom. I’m going to need at least 10 grand. Don’t tell the publishing houses, but I’m pathetic when it comes to sentence semantics. I could care less about the arrangement of my prepositional phrase or how my conjunction functions. And it’s a well kept secret that I run on a fifth grade spelling level. SpellCheck.com hired me as a test subject. Then there’s my nasty little homophone issue… I can break down the structure of a sentence about as well as I can rebuild a computer.
Despite all that, I can write. I couldn’t say that nine years ao. The day I started my goal was to write a respectable opening page before the phone rang because every time it rang our home computer automatically shut down. Those were the days I paid serious homage to the “save” tab. After a few months of losing entire pages to telemarketers my husband bought me my first laptop.
For nine years I never stopped. I wrote when my kids were napping. I wrote after they were in bed for the night. I wrote every hour they were in preschool, then elementary school. Now I write during the swim meets and the football practices. I don’t have “free time”, I have “writing time”. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.
And now that I’m about to finish this book the way I envisioned it all those years ago, I’m taking a break to enjoy this space. I know, once I leap, it’ll be gone. I’ve got a copy edit to do, and a literary agent to locate and the whole publishing extravaganza to experience. I’m blissfully naïve of what’s ahead of me; just the way it should be.
All of us come to the cusp but how often do we stop to take in the view? This is the high point between what was and what will be. December is the cusp between this year and the next. Labor is the cusp of childlessness and parenthood. A marriage proposal is the cusp of living single and marriage. Divorce is the cusp of marriage and living single. Death is the cusp of The Here and The Beyond.
Too many of us rush to ride the wave, dive with no hesitation, finish with no appreciation for the process. I challenge you to hang for a bit upon the cusp, this fine ledge between worlds. It’s the last time you’ll be here… at this particular high point.
And then someone from Upstairs is selling you a truckload of determination as they wave you down the garden path.