I went to my first friend’s baby shower today. Not my first friend to have a baby. My first friend, the one I met first, in life. It was at a restaurant right around the corner from the community college where I sent the character in my second novel. It’s about an hour from Manhattan, and an hour from where I grew up in Northern Jersey. I honestly thought I made up the name of the college. Then when I was plotting my route from NYC to Branchburg, New Jersey, I saw it on the map. I laughed a bemused sort of chuckle. I thought I would drive around campus to see if the fictionalized version of the school that on conjured on the page matched the one that actually existed.
As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I was feeling tired. I still had an hour drive ahead of me. I had looked on the map on my phone to see if I could see where the campus was exactly in relation to the restaurant. All of a sudden I couldn’t find it. I set the GPS, thinking I might pass College Road or something, on my way back to the highway. I could take my chances and make the turn. I set out and right off the bat wasn’t going in the right direction. Instead of making a U-turn, I let the GPS guide me through a neighborhood. Dead leaves fallen from tall trees scraped the wide street. Houses with wooden siding and shutters stood far enough apart from each other to make trick-or-treating exhausting, just as it should be. When I emerged from the development, I was, somewhat miraculously, at the mouth of campus.
I haven’t tended to my novel in some weeks, but I am still certain I will see it through when the time is right. I have felt drawn to other things, like teaching and social engagements. And in an effort to make editing feel like less of a chore – I remind myself I love writing and I love this novel – I am giving myself the time to do everything. And that means tending to the novel when it feels right. I will see it through. There is no deadline.