My manuscript is somewhere over the U.S. today.
I'd e-mailed the full draft to my advisor last week, as instructed. She wrote me a harried reply late Sunday night to say she'd only started reading it that day, was halfway through, and was exhausted. (She's teaching an overload and is on seven other thesis committees, she said, as she's said numerous times this semester.) She'd been writing directly on the hard copy she'd printed off. Could I give her my address so she could mail it to me, two-day air? Just the first six chapters. On the seventh, she'd had nothing to suggest.
Nothing? That gave me some pause. They say any editor, when she's giving your work the attention it ought to have, should be able to find something.
I gave my advisor the information, hoping she'd keep duplicates in case what she was sending got lost. I almost asked her if she'd do that for me, just for my own peace of mind. But I couldn't quite ask her to make copies. She was already fried. She didn't need to hear my implied mistrust -- of her judgment, the postal service, the universe. I'm working on that last one, but old habits die hard, especially after last year.
When that package hits the front porch tomorrow, I'll need to be in the frame of mind to dive in, assess what and where to add or subtract with my advisor's guidance, limited as I'm afraid it might be. And I knew that, when I sent it off, given her increasingly frazzled notes in the last two months. So I took the last days of the previous week and the weekend to leave the draft completely, to prepare myself: laundry, yard cleanup. I can't edit well when I'm surrounded by clutter.
The lavender we planted two summers ago is turning green again after the winter. And it was looking leggy. I squatted for an hour, clipping away dead wood, tidying, shaping, peering at tiny silver shoots, trying to determine how the plants would look in a few weeks' time when they had filled out.
This morning, I saw them from the kitchen window -- six little fuzzy globes by the flagstone walk -- and mumbled some kind of prayer: let me be able to see what I need to see tomorrow and for the rest of this month.
The routine my advisor and I have kept for the past two years has been more like this: I send her pages; she writes a note back summing up her general impressions with a list of specific concerns at the end. It sounds like I'll be getting the specifics as they appear in the margins, but the big picture, right when it really matters? That's what she won't be pulling together for me; she asked my permission, in a way, to be excused from that. I'm disappointed. If there was ever a time that the larger impression felt crucial -- but I can't worry about it. There just isn't anything more I can ask of her, so enough. I'll make do.
Six little fuzzy globes, six hairy chapters. At least it's not a delicate bonsai ...
Addendum 4/6: No package as of 8 p.m. PDT. Insert choice expletive here.
When Someone You Love is Hurting
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