I am finished. No, that sounds wrong. I am finished with my book. Does that mean I have thrown it out? I have finished my book invites the question: finished reading or finished writing? I have completed writing my book. Well, this sounds clearer. Now that I am going through the labor pains of putting all the pieces together: table of contents, acknowledgements, dedication and other boring stuff, I am already dreading the post partum despondency that happens after a book is sent in for publication. I hang on to the book like a treasure and am tempted to lock it up in a bank drawer. I have become tyrannically possessive. It’s like taking your first-born to kindergarten and dreading to leave the child there.
Did I mention completion? Can you imagine the audacity of writing a book in a foreign language? How about reading it over for the nth time, revising some, wondering if I missed a crooked sentence which may happen in the mire of translating from Armenian, my mother tongue; English learned at high school in Cairo; and American since I came to the United States. I still struggle with prepositions, compositions and oppositions. A few other sterling words seep in, like ambiance, kismet, raison d’etre that lose half their flavor translated into Amerenglish. Expressions like “you’re pulling my leg,” or “working the graveyard shift” throw me off completely, because I take them literally.
The book has passed the editing stage long ago but it is still on final revision – it has been on final from the second to the eighth version. I still find erroneous sentences, words underlined in red by the computer, a missing comma here, a capital letter there, quotations marks that I have not closed. When does it end? We crossed quite a milestone together. We went through critiques, computer hacks, identity theft, personal health problems, and other hair-raising distractions like losing seventy-five percent of the edited data without hope of recovery. Comparatively speaking, changing the title was a child’s play.
Reviewing my writing itinerary was eye-opening. Now, would I be able to face doomsday when I part with it? Did I mention all that needed to be told? Did I overlook a life-changing event in my all-important memoir? Yes, I could include a few more but the original assumption that my book would end in three chapters has already grown into two volumes, putting me into competition with the Encyclopedia Britannica. I look back and marvel at the transformation I went through. I never expected that this quiet and silent girl who as a young adult had to ask for permission to go out of the house, escorted by her brother, crossed three continents alone in search of a niche and settled in the fourth one, a hemisphere away.
In writing this memoir I found the real me.