parting is such sweet sorrow

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, drink, sleep or throw up. Maybe I will just go to yoga.

I’m elated, but exhausted. My confidence is high, but I have moments of self-doubt. My book is done. At least stage one. At 91,837 words, it’s probably too long for a debut novel. It has a working title. Emailing it to my editor (you know I wanted to say “my editor”) approximately 22 minutes ago was harder than sending my kids off to school for the first time.

I set an initial goal to finish writing by March 31st, but as the words came freely, I upped that self-imposed deadline to COB today. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t editing/writing up until the end. In the moments before sending off my manuscript, I was seeing double. I was probably doing more harm than good. Pencils down. Step away from the computer, Chelsea.

A little piece of me is gone. I already miss my baby, though I’m glad it’s temporarily out of my hands. I know it will be a better story after undergoing a professional edit. I can’t wait to be reunited with my characters and their plot lines to rewrite, rethink, restructure.

If I’ve canceled lunch/drink plans with you, cried on your shoulder, sent you panicky texts/emails, or just generally been unexplainably weepy, absent-minded, spacey, anti-social, insecure and/or self-absorbed, I’m sorry. I owe you one.

The hard work lies ahead. (Trying to find an agent sounds worse than on-line dating.) This journey is far from over. But thank you all who have helped me get this far. You know who you are.

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the process

You write and you write and you write and you write and you write. Then you delete a bunch of shit and write some more. Then you write and you write and you write. You put your computer away but then you think of something so you sit back down and write and write and write. But you don’t read what you wrote right away because it needs time to marinate. So the next day you read the new stuff and it’s good but it’s bad so you delete some and write some more and make it better. Then you write and you write and you write and you write. You write more because editing sucks and you hate reading your own work. Sometimes you read it and want to cry and delete it all. Sometimes you read it and want to cry because you move yourself to tears. And you write and you write and you write. Occasionally you shower. You panic. You focus. You fold laundry because that’s productive. You take a few days off because you are tormented. You wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea, so fabulous you won’t forget it. In the morning, you can’t remember.

You visualize your book on a table at a bookstore. You see someone walk over to it and pick it up, read the back cover. You imagine this person buying your book (recognizing most people don’t buy books in bookstores but this is more satisfying than picturing someone placing an Amazon order). You cringe at the bad review in your mind. You hear your voice on the Diane Rehm Show. On a good day, you might rehearse your Academy Award acceptance speech for best adapted screenplay. On a bad day, you print out your manuscript and use it for kindling.

You write. You edit. You perfect. You write more. You find mistakes. You drive yourself crazy.

And in the end, you have a book.

Why the Olympics make me cry

I’m a sucker for the Olympics. The first one I recall was 1976 in Montreal when Nadia Comaneci perfected gymnastics. I was only six at the time, and she barely looked older, but I was hooked.

Fast forward to 1984. My dad lived in Los Angeles, and I got to attend the Opening Ceremonies, Track and Field events, and a baseball game. Mary Lou Retton. Carl Lewis. ZOLA BUDD. These are names I’ll never forget.

Remember when the Summer and Winter Games were held in the same year? And you had to wait FOUR ENTIRE YEARS for an Olympiad of any season? I preferred it that way, but much like I feel about interleague baseball, I accept the current reality as something I cannot change.

I don’t just love the Olympics for the sports, though I do love all the sports (especially curling and figure skating and alpine skiing and hockey and luge and bobsled). I eat up the human interest stories too. I want to be emotionally invested in the athletes. They perform these spectacularly inhuman feats, but to know that they eat, breathe, live, love, bruise and sometimes want to give up makes their moment of glory all the more, well, glorious.

I take the Olympics seriously. In August 2008, the cops came a calling at midnight because I was screaming so loud when Michael Phelps won gold by a gazillionth of a second that someone reported a domestic disturbance. I still get depressed when I think about Michelle Kwan never winning gold. And don’t even get me started on the Dan Jansen story. Athletes who come back to win gold after previously failing have a special place in my heart. And moms. Oh, the moms get me every time.

So far, the 2014 games will be marked by Bob Costas and his bout with Russian pink eye; the enthusiasm of the biathlon sports broadcasters; and most beautifully, Meryl Davis and Charlie White winning gold in ice dance. I’ve watched their gold medal performance five times and each viewing brings me to tears. Though why didn’t NBC air their medal ceremony? Oh, because the Russians changed things up so they get a flower ceremony right away and the medals later? Come on, the athletes should get their gold medals immediately upon winning their events. So they can sleep with them. Which is totally what I’d do if I ever won gold (or silver or bronze).

My friend Kate and I have a little joke where she texts me during the broadcasts to ask “are you crying yet” and the answer is always yes. So I started wondering, why am I extra sappy this time around? Why do I hold my breath for every big moment?

It didn’t take me long to figure out the answer. Like these athletes, I’m also in pursuit of a goal. In late September, I started a novel literally overnight and next week, I’m sending a completed manuscript to be edited. I have good days and bad days, but every day I write or edit or think about my story. I’ve discovered that writing is my life’s passion but if I want it to be my purpose, I have to succeed. And I’m driven to make the podium regardless of how many runs I have to take to get there.