The problem with being a writer who wants to be published someday is that you have to stir several half-cooked pots at once. You write a thing, revise it, send it away – either to your agent or your editor or to people you hope to become one of these, and then you have to start some other thing lest you go mad with the wait.
Unfortunately, this greatly interferes with several aspects of me.
Right now, for instance, my goal has been simplified over time from a prolific catalog of published works and piles of money to sit upon and with which to dress myself and keep my hair in some unnatural color, down to the goal of just one. I always said I wanted to like everything I wrote enough for it to be the only thing that ever saw the light. This puts immense pressure on the first thing to be published, though. I’m afraid sometimes I want to put all my thoughts and feelings into the first book – every last one of them – and that if I don’t it will be a shallow, miserable failure and a regret. If I only publish one thing, people will read it and think it’s my ultimate personal gospel, the one thing I meant to say to the world. My first little book shouldn’t have to take the pressure of that. But at any rate, this makes me want to polish and revise and toss-out and weave-in for the rest of my life rather than let that thing go out into the world as unfinished as my character or soul.
Second, I did face the idea of dying early a couple of times. The first time I really considered it, I remember asking myself if I wanted to sky-dive now, take a trip, get a tattoo. Did I want to try that acting dream after all, or did I maybe have something half-written that I could finally finish. But one thing I decided then was that I definitely didn’t have any half-written thing or even half-cooked idea that I was willing to send out as the last thing she did before she died. (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has a story like that behind its writing. Now that’s a book I would not have regretted as my last).
So I don’t think there’s any hope for me except to finish one. I’ll never be able to remove these pressures from it. But finishing is the only way to discover if I do get another chance after all, a chance to write the next last thing I do.