A few months ago I came up with the idea writing a book is a lot like making candy. For those brave souls who have stood over a pot stirring until your arm almost falls off, you get the picture. If you’ve never had the pleasure, let me explain.
The gooey mixture gets heated on the stove to just the perfect temperature. You use a candy thermometer but the real test is dropping some of the sweetness into a glass of cold water. Not hot enough, and the stuff will dissolve in the water. As it heats up, it starts to form a palpable blob. This is called “soft ball” stage, preferable for things like caramel rolls. If you heat it longer, you will get to “hard crack” which works for peanut brittle but not taffy.
For the last twenty years, I’ve claimed to be writing a book. In reality, I never made it past the dissolve into nothing stage. I wrote in my journal, even took a few classes, but to say life got in the way would be an understatement. I actually quit a job I hated giving the reason: I have to finish my book. My loving husband told me years ago, as we returned from a party, “You really shouldn’t tell people you’re writing a book. It’s like crying ‘wolf’.”
Last week, my book hit “soft ball” stage. It’s ready to be pulled off the stove and stretched and pulled into the finished product. I found an amazing memoir teacher last year, Marion Roach Smith, and I learned how to write with intent. The book doesn’t resemble the purple prose versions I labored over years ago. It has structure, defined chapters and most importantly, my truth.
I’m incredibly grateful to all of the people who smiled politely when I mentioned the book, yet it never appeared. It’s a lot like announcing you’re on a diet and working out, only to not lose an ounce. Yep, I did that too. There is a schedule in place, a self-imposed deadline, and so far I’m hitting the mark. Thank you for your generous patience as I stumbled and quit this marathon so many times. The finish line is in sight.