My mother-in-law recently took the family and I on an awesome trek to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Though the journey to and from wasn’t the most memorable part, I will share what it looked like coming home:
Thirty hours in transit.
Boat to Zodiac to bus to airport and so on.
Four airports (two in Spanish-speaking Ecuador).
Customs, leaving Baltra (Galapagos) and arriving in Miami (90 minutes, zombies after an overnight flight).
One hotel room for eight hours, enough time to watch a Spanish-language “The Martian” and some soccer (for those of us who can’t sleep-on-demand) and veg and think about dinner. (At some point, fear of falling asleep and missing a flight overrides a need to try to sleep.)
Waiting, and sitting, and waiting, and pacing, and…
I could go into more detail (the poor service of American Airlines, the do-not-drink-the-tapwater order in Guayaquil) but we’ve all been there before. Life shunted into a string of waiting spells, shuffling, patience–international travel these days.
So it’s no surprise I’m reminded of the finishing steps for publishing a novel. The tons of work and countless (countable?) hours. The waiting and pacing. The parade of decisions and second-guessing and, yes, retracing of steps (your own, and thousands of others before you). At the end, you’re fried.
It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve read through my novels 20 times each beyond the initial writing phase. Who hasn’t edited a paragraph 13 times (the tone, the word choice) only to come back on a second read-through and cut it entirely? Fat, superfluous, saved for another work.
(Ironically, this journey home was in one ‘straight shot’ whereas the completion of a book is spread over, say, 3-4 months.)
Of course, if the whole process wasn’t arduous, would it even be worth it? If you weren’t so sick of reading your own work (or cramped seat 17E) you could go ape-shit by the end, have you worked enough?
So, as I begin the finishing process for a fifth time (Destruction) I’m going to pin up a copy of this picture. The big Galapagos sea lion on his beach, basking and stretching his back and playing king. Because sometimes the world is this pristine. Sometimes the water is that blue.