12 February 2010

Now Wherefore Stop'st Thou Me?

When Samuel Taylor Coleridge was young, he was a child genius. Since he grew up to be a grown-up genius, you wouldn't think this would be a particular problem, but he grew up to be a grown-up genius who almost never finished anything, and one theory is that he almost never finished anything because by not finishing he escaped comparison: if nothing was ever done, it couldn't be a work of magnificent genius, but it couldn't be a failure, either - no one could ever say, "Well....it's okay, but it's not what you were when you were seven." (I think this theory is actually quite clever.)

I thought of this fact this evening while I was crossing the courtyard to print out my finished book. Yes, that's right, I've finished The Book, and I'm about to send it off to the publisher (or should that be The Publisher?). But I cannot say I feel happy. In fact, I can say exactly how I feel, because it's a feeling I've had before. I feel like I'm in shock: cold, tooth-chattery, and shaky. And scared, in that really really ominous way where you KNOW something awful is going to happen. So while I was walking across the courtyard I asked myself what the problem was, and then I listened really hard to myself while I answered. At first I answered that I was scared about the things that were supposed to happen or be dealt with after The Book was finished, but when I listened to my insides while I said that, I knew it wasn't true. Then I answered that I was scared because I didn't know who I'd be after I finished The Book, but when I listened that wasn't true either. And then finally I said, and realised it was true while I was saying it, that the problem is that I'm scared nothing will change: and mostly, I'm scared that The Book will be sent back by the publisher yet again.

I'm scared that I'm going to be this girl forever, this girl who is Working on Her Book, this girl who hasn't found a partner Yet, this girl who has a disliked First Job, but is going to get a better second one Someday. If I finish the book, then there's a risk that they'll just send it back to me again, and that's a symbol (or a synecdoche) for my being in limbo yet again, and yet longer. And, of course, as a footnote to that is the fact that if I finish The Book I am opening the door to the future, if only because I agreed with myself that certain things just wouldn't be dealt with or wouldn't happen until after I finished. But that really is a footnote. Because I'm not really afraid that certain situations will or won't come to pass. I'm afraid that in some way my future (my better future) won't come to pass, or rather that my future will just be my waiting present, endlessly repeating itself.

So I guess that's what I'm afraid of: not that everything will change for the worse, but that nothing will change, so there'll just be more of this waiting waiting waiting for things to start.

I love Coleridge's work, but I never thought to have fellow feeling for him. (wow, good accidental use of alliteration.)

1 comment:

Chickenhawk said...

Ho Ho! Googles "now wherefore" .....sent here. I guess I've never empathised with Coleridge on that sentiment before either... suddenly my procrastination doesn't feel so bad. :)