last may I began a project, a book about wolves. since that time I’ve traveled to montana, yellowstone, wyoming, idaho, montana again, yellowstone again. I’ve read a towering stack of books, and perused articles and op eds galore. I’ve interviewed dozens of people, from hunters to ranchers to conservationists, attorneys, retired schoolteachers, biologists. I’ve written, I’ve listened, I’ve reflected, I’ve written more. and more, and more, shaping and crafting it into something worth reading.
and yesterday, I took my manuscript–after giving it a thorough polishing–and put it down for a nap. it’s going to rest, now, for a few weeks. I’m going to leave it alone, no checking to see if its breathing, for I’m going to trust that it’ll be just fine without me.
a small period of dormancy is good for both of us. I’m going to focus on other projects, other areas in my life that might need a little attention, and I’m purposefully not going to think about wolves. I’m going to tidy up my living spaces, maybe go for a walk. catch up on all those things I’ve let slip to the bottom of the pile. maybe sing a little bit. sweep out a few corners. think about the cover of the published book, envision it on people’s tables and nightstands, in their hands, in their minds.
this period of enforced hibernation is a trick used by many writers, a way to view something with fresh eyes. it’s crucial to be able to step away from your work, to be able to see it from a witnessing viewpoint. to read it as if you were someone else. and this is impossible to do when you’re engrossed in the writing, the creation of it. some parts of my manuscript I wrote 6, maybe 7 months ago, and during my most recent full-manuscript assessment and edit, I had no memory of writing them. some parts I’d written just 2 or 3 months back, and I read them as if for the first time. I know when I pick the manuscript back up a few weeks from now I won’t have forgotten it all, but hopefully the time away will have dulled my memory enough to let it speak to me in a different way. perhaps parts will be less clear, perhaps new ideas will jump out at me, different ways to organize, to express thoughts, to make the story better hold together, intrigue, delight.
when I return to the manuscript a few weeks from now, I will read it from end to end, I will try to forget that I wrote any of it, I will let it speak to me. and hopefully it will howl.