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DING, DONG, THE BOOK IS DONE!
September 18, 2005
 
I whined for years, when I was in parish ministry, about not being able to put writing in the center of my life. I had to stuff it into the interstices of my days, writing on the train and between appointments, late at night on occasions when I had to sleep at the office. It was hard: there was always something urgent crying for my attention. So when I retired from it, I thought for sure that writing would become the leisurely, calm, unpressured work I always dreamed it would be. Deadlines would be easily met, met early. There would be plenty of time for everything.

But writing books is work, and there's a reason they don't call work "play." The last weeks of writing one are pure hell, an ever-present clutch of guilt in the chest if I do anything else. I can't go to the hospital now; I have to finish my book. I can't work in the garden until I've finished my book. I can't stop for supper. No, thanks, I can't. Call me after I've finished my book.

People bring themselves with them wherever they go. This is both good and bad news, but it does mean that we shouldn't expect sudden profound changes to take place as a result of a change in our coordinates. You're going to be who you were before you retired unless you resolve not to be and take steps to make that happen. That change is not something that just happens to you. It's something you do.

I sat quietly at the computer terminal for a long time after I had typed the title page, the last page I do when I write a book, a sort of AMEN that comes right at the beginning but is written at the end. I'm finished. Free. Now I could read books I'd been saving, see plays, work in the garden. put in the quantities that I forgot to include in the cookbook recipes.

It is not in my nature to be free for long. Some of us are just like that, racehorses. Except for those last weeks, it is not unpleasant for us. It feels like a rushing, clean stream of living water, full of healthful energy. this time, though, I let the living stream become like the flood -- dangerous, filthy, choking. Never again, I vow. I pray. But thank You, again, for saving me. Again.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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