I have been living on coffee, brown rice and dates, madly typing with two (sore) fingers this week, and have hardly budged from my keyboard. I have not gotten out much at all in the last two months either, except to get a little fresh air, or exercise, or do what I absolutely must in order to meet a book deadline of April 1.
No fooling. My editor and I can finally call it a wrap. For now, anyway. I'm not popping champagne corks yet. For me, each publication, from a column to a book is a miracle. (Speaking of literary miracles, read John Straley's new novel "Cold Storage, Alaska." It is so good. A comedy, a love story, a true-to-life small-town Alaska tale, plus there's a great dog in it. I loved it. I wish I wrote that book.)
I will believe my new book is done when it is in my hand, about a year from now, assuming everything stays on schedule in the increasingly unpredictable world of publishing. It's called "Finding the Good," and is about how writing obituaries and rearing a big family has taught me -- and is still teaching me -- to look for and find the good in people and situations that aren't at first glance so great.
It's a practice. And a process. And it's habit forming, because once you choose to see the world this way, it is so obvious how well it works -- making both others and yourself happy, or if you are an optimist like I am, happier. Which means at the very least I've become a better person writing it, so there's that.
Also, now it is time -- and I have time -- to clean my desk. (I wait till a project is complete for good luck and in case there's a note somewhere on it I will need) and wash the coffee cups, walk the dog, ride my bike, attend a library committee meeting, go to choir practice and sit down and enjoy a meal afterward at the Fireweed, which is now open for the summer. Also, I have time for the noon "Tater Talk" all about growing spuds, at the Sheldon Museum tomorrow 12-1 (you can bring lunch). There's a KHNS wine-tasting fundraiser tomorrow at 7pm in the Chilkat Center, the Venturer Scouts Outback trip fundraising dinner and auction is Saturday night at 6. And Sunday night at 7, the Haines Arts Council presents the sweet folk duo of Mandy and Dave.
So much to do, and so much time to do it in. If I find my camera battery charger underneath all the drafts on my desk, I'll take a few pictures of the melting snow for you, and of my neighbor's efforts to scrape and chip the glacier off his driveway using a little red tractor. Time flies when you are having fun.
Haines writer Heather Lende just finished her third book of essays, "Finding the Good." This post originally appeared on her blog. It has been reprinted with permission.