At first, when the suggestion hit me at 11:30 at night, I tried to ignore it. This was a usual interruption to my sleep; a sudden jolt of insecurity usually beckoning me to change course or quit entirely. My impulses are whispered in my ear late at night and then carried out the following day, accordingly. Destroy this thing. I had been more patient recently so the voice was soft, calm, matronly. Write the foreword, beget the clarity. God, I love writing. Any chance to write something pithy, essayed, poetic, I jump to, but this is different. A novel like this would take stamina. I didn’t want to waste any more time on this project and I didn’t want to toss and turn checking lists, counting errands, running them. Immediately, I spit the thought out. I simply can’t write another thing that isn’t in linear order. Have I told you my joke about linear order? Not yet. Wait for it.
I don’t know what soothes me more: the completion of anything or the incipient stage that I maunder through, skipping gaily towards a promise, a new me, a reinvention like it’s the beginning of June on the last day of school and I’m counting how I will enter high school before I’ve even left the bus. It’s the work I don’t want to do. My work. My personal work. I found endings horrific. Devastating. In fact, I pummel towards them at the start to get it over with. Grief. Yes, of course, I am writing a story of grief but so much more than that. I am writing a reflection of my inability to complete which renders me in the intermediary stage of this process: refusing to write the ending. It is not just superstition, but pain that keeps me from seeing the way it ends for my heroines. I cannot let them go. I cannot do them justice. They never sound the same on paper. It is a story of a woman’s grief split into several sections in stories, in snippets, like novellas that umbrellas as her victory. As she faces her alligator, we breathe. We are waiting for something. She is waiting for something too.
I’ve always admired prose. I’ve admired narrators that can chop things up or vacillate between two different times like Margaret Atwood, Elena Ferrante or Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. The weaving of multiple stories on different timelines so it is as if you are understanding the story as the narrator tells it to herself. I find that more authentic the way people really do tell stories, the way people to relate to one another. The unfolding. The blossom. The waft of maturation in your lines, “did you know dear friend, that I am prone to destroying things to eliminate one part?’ we say calmly over tea. The lightbulb. The final stake in the heart. Omniscience.
It is the writing process. No writer walks into a book and thinks, yes, like this, it will be like this. It has taken me years to execute this, not solely because I am devastated by endings but because I am writing something that forces me to multiply them. Something that forces me to look ahead to tell a finished story. To leave only some room but to walk in knowing what really happens to her. Inspired from an early age by the Choose Your Own Adventure novels, specifically Goosebumps version, I, as an adult, have been trying to write a tale that doesn’t get YOU to choose but forces you to watch her be presented with her own different endings begging her to pick the one you favor most. I wrote several endings to the story I am telling, all of which were probable to me and all denoted, on their own, my heroine’s tragedy of foresight but impulse, resentment and isolation. This book is not happy, although I try to dot it with scenes of elation as she gets what she wants, but there is always a price to pay for attaining. This is a book to be read carefully and I have done my best to write it plainly, as confusing as my own premise was. That we are always uncovering ourselves as we go, remembering the past as it was, the present as we feel to anticipate an ending we deserve. Why did I resist writing this foreword for so long? I have written several drafts already. The work: the enormity of what I want to portray, a reflection of my own deep synthesis and patient optimism and fear. The fear of being seen. The fear of being finished. The fear of being misunderstood. The ending you seek is in the tale itself.
“And I came full at them,
hook in mouth
like hungry lure.”