The Final Stretch: It Ain’t Pretty, Part II

226 pages. That’s what is in the blue Vessels binder on the bookcase closest to my writing desk. 226 messy pages of Vessels. A first draft. A messy draft. An ugly draft. Doesn’t matter which adjective I use. I wrote a draft of my book.

I wrote every day (except Christmas) from December 1 through January 31, and now my book has a beginning, a middle (lots and lots of middle), and an end.

What now?

An unexpected day of rest
I had a hard time relaxing yesterday. Tuesday is the day I visit the seniors at the South Valley Multipurpose Center. I was supposed to go from there to my first meeting with Lisa Gill, gifted writer and my new writing partner. Then I was going to do laundry and pack for my trip to D.C. for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Annual Conference. And between those tasks and errands, I was going to do my February budget, catch up on email, clean the kitchen, and map out my upcoming wedding dress shopping trip. (See “Exciting News” in next week’s blog post.)

Albuquerque Public Schools announced a two-hour delay on Monday night. Tuesday morning, they canceled school. The cold and snow kept the elders at home. Lisa and I rescheduled for next week when kids are in school and the snow has melted enough to bring back the sensible driver in each of us. (Something about precipitation makes ‘Burqueños—myself included—forget everything we learned about driving. We follow too closely, brake on ice patches, gawk at accidents, weave in and out of traffic…) P. and K. were patient as I stole moments throughout the day to change out laundry loads and fill my 3 ounce containers with shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Between drafts of press releases for a huge international trade show, Henry took a movie shift so I could pack a suitcase. P., K. and I played outside, picking up handfuls of glorious snow and spinning in circles as the powder scattered around us; we dusted snow off of cars, visited Oso, the neighbor’s dog; built a fire, watched “Up”; threw a mini basketball at the biggest icicles hanging off the roof; patted down the mountain of leaves behind the shed with our snow boots; made snow shakes with food coloring, milk, vanilla, agave and cinnamon. It was one o’clock.

It took until five o’clock for me to get that the kitchen does not have to be spotless for me to get on an airplane, for me to finally relax into the kids’ enthusiasm over the snow and cold and the prospect of another snow day. I kept hoping my flight would be delayed so I’d have more time to tie up loose ends at home before heading to the airport.

And then I was on a plane to D.C.

This conference is overwhelming. Every year I start off with great intentions to attend the keynote lecture and to map out my schedule by pre-selecting which panels and readings I will attend. This year my focus is on community, reconnecting with writer friends like Carolina Monsivaís, Rich Yañez (whose novel Cross Over Water makes its debut at this year’s conference), Erasmo Guerra, Sue Silverman, and Dawn Haines. Each has played a part in supporting Vessels, either by making a devotion or donating a book or helping me recreate a home after the fire. Con Tinta, the Chicano/Latino Writers circle hosts its sixth annual reception on Thursday night. This year’s honoree is Helena María Viramontes. I’ll sign up to staff the Macondo table and attend readings and panels by Macondistas. Saturday, Caro, Rich, Eduardo Corral and I will present “Behind the Brown Wall: Chicana and Chicano Voices Rise Up,” a reading by authors who declare the U.S.-Mexico border a part of their creative identity.

I’ll also, shhhhh, steal away from the conference to visit with Uncle David and Aunt Karen, Luci and Michael, Ann and Patrick, Cecille, Victoria, and Tricia.

I’ll buy books and pick up information on contests and literary journals because it’s past time for me to get my work out into the world.

Thank you, donors who help offset my trip expenses! Your support makes a huge difference.

And on Sunday, I’ll make it home in time to watch the Steelers win their seventh Super Bowl title, the most of any NFL team.

Tune in Tuesday, February 7 for Exciting News and All Things Chocolate.

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 8:44 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. A very rich posting, Michelle! And I laughed out loud at the bit about the spotless kitchen. A friend once explained that compulsion: if our plane (or car) crashes, we don’t want neighbors/family/friends coming over to our house and thinking we live like slobs!! He & I pledged to one another we’d go to the other’s house & tidy up right away. No worry! 🙂 Enjoy, enjoy the trip.

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