It’s okay to be between things

Dani Shapiro wrote a blog post this week about being between things. Her latest book Devotion (it has my recommendation) hit the shelves recently, and since she’s just starting to write something new, she’s uncomfortable when people ask what she’s working on. She writes:

It’s hard to promote a book and work on a new one at the same time. Hard — but not impossible. Just the other day, I had a glimmer of an idea for a new novel. And a non-fiction book I plan to tackle too… But I also have to allow my interior life to settle. A writer who has finished a book is a bit like a snow globe all shaken up. It needs to float back down again, to allow for the possibility of clarity.

It’s okay to be between things. To rest… To take walks. To read, read, read. To trust that there will be another book, and another, and another. To have faith in the process by which the imagination asserts itself — in its own way, in its own time.

This resonated with me because I’m between things, too. I recently completed my manuscript. I’m far from bored; I’m looking for both a job and a literary agent. But while I have hopes and dreams for the future, I don’t know exactly what will come next.

Being between things is not something I’m good at. For most of my life, I’ve known what would come next. I’ve jumped from college to graduate school, from grad school to a job, from a job to traveling in Africa. I’ve always planned out my next step. Coming home from Africa was the first time I didn’t know what was next, and even then I quickly decided to write my book.

Now, as much as I’ve positioned myself to succeed in this next phase, I don’t know exactly what it will be. And that makes me feel anxious. Like, as Dani says, a globe all shaken up.

I know I’m in the process of floating down again, of waiting to land. When I do, I’ll probably look back at this and think, that wasn’t so bad. Things turned out how I hoped — or perhaps in another way, for good reason. Isn’t that how life always looks in retrospect?

Until then, I need to remind myself that it’s okay to be between things. I’m resting. Resting up for what’s next.

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6 Responses

  1. Hi there,
    You are so right, Alexis. It is so okay to be between things. At least you are not jumping into something you’re not sure of or know you don’t want. You’re putting yourself in a place of allowing the next step to emerge. I can’t wait for your news that you’ve found an agent and are on your way to publication. I feel as if you’re already there!
    Karen

  2. I can relate to this, too. I’ve always felt like I needed to know what comes next…I think the fact that you are active–active in looking for a job, an agent, etc.–means you will find something great and in no time. Definitely savior the time to relax and rest 🙂

  3. i really needed this today Alexis! I just posted about wondering about book sales and floundering a bit as I try to decide what’s next what’s next what’s next.

    I need to learn to relax 🙂

  4. You have an idea of what will come next, and that’s what matters. You’re seeking, not simply stagnating, drifting.

    Mostly for health reasons, I’ve had to be between things a number of times in my life. Generally it’s hard. And the transition into the next thing can be difficult. But, you know, those times hold some of my fondest, most vivid memories. And, without question, those times will make you a better writer. If you’re constantly moving, you’ll never digest, never stumble upon little alleyways you would have been moving too quickly to notice.

  5. […] my head back on straight! And as coincidence sometimes works, in the midst of my funk I read this great blog post about the same […]

  6. Alexis, this post is a great reminder of the importance of resting in between to recharge our bodies and souls and sometimes to let the process unfold naturally.

    Kathy
    http://krpooler.wordpress.com

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