Today – or rather, this afternoon – was spent at a coffee shop writing. A perfect thing to do on a holiday. Well, more research than writing. I finally reached that point in my book where it was hard to proceed without an actual timeline for the California/Oregon trail. So I spent hours trying to use my accumulated research to assemble at least a vague timeline for a normal wagon train that I could use – results are posted on Once Upon A Story, if you are interested.
The coffee shop is extremely full today, but one conversation caught my attention a little ways from me. A woman probably in her early forties, slim build, beautiful medium length brown hair, almond shaped eyes, working on a computer. A man, likely early fifties (maybe – I’m terrible at telling age) came in and sat down. They struck up a brief conversation based on – something – I forget what. Then, obviously interested in talking with her more, he asked if she was working on a paper. “No, a book, actually.” I was instantly annoyed, because I apparently don’t think anyone deserves to work on a book but me (Maybe I’ve been working too long today).
The man, not unattractive but rather unremarkable, furthers my irritation by asking the obvious question – the question that prevents me from telling people that I am a writer – “Oh, really? What are you working on?”
She proceeds to tell him what it is about, and he then responds with the comment that I find even more exasperating than asking what a writer is working on. “I’m working on a book too!”
The end result of their conversation was a mutual agreement to read each other’s books, and a closing comment from her about how she hopes hers will be published someday and it is the first time she’s ever tried this.
Glowering, I returned to the book I’ve been working on and researching for three years, after brooding over the idea for the book for ten. What right has she, someone who has never tried this before, to not only be on her third round of editing her book, in hopes of publishing it, and talking to a complete stranger about it? Clearly it does not mean as much to her as it does to me. What right has she to call herself a writer? What right has she to even be in this coffee shop with me? But, as my random envious bouts always do, it ended in self-reflection. I know quite well I am only jealous because she not only has the self-confidence to speak about her book, but because she is working hard to completion, with no apparent (key word: apparent) doubts as to the end result. I am jealous because I, who claim to have been writing since 8 years old, have yet to be published, due to my own neglect. I should look at her as an inspiration, not an intruder.
Three hours later, my judgement upon her returns with a vengeance as I hear her, while I struggle over converting a passage with a lot of “telling” into a conversation, turn to the man with the smirkish smile and broad forehead and say, “I’m done!”
Done?? DONE??!! HOW CAN YOU BE DONE?
And she, with her perfect skinny figure and shyly innocent face, embarks on a long conversation about it with him and his energetic, encouraging tones while I sit here and write about them to make myself feel better.
But seriously. I am almost there, I keep telling myself. Oh, I am only halfway through editing the book, but there are serious edits taking place. Whole chapters being overhauled. And that quote comes to mind.