I must remind myself—
they can’t tell that I didn’t write this bit immediately after that one
the six months where I ignored the manuscript are not visible to the naked eye
the bit where I put my head in my hands and muttered “I have no idea what I’m doing” takes place in the single space between the period and the next capital letter.
As soon as I shove that character in, she has always been there
and someone will probably say that she’s the emotional center
and the book couldn’t have been written without her
and nobody will know that I thought of her three thousand words from the end and scrolled up and shoehorned in a couple of paragraphs near the beginning because, for whatever reason, the story needed an elderly nun
she was almost the cook
and for about ten minutes she was the earnest young village priest
and now she has been there since you started reading.
I am sanding down the places where my editor found splinters
kicking up a fine dust of adjectives and dropped phrases
(Wear a breath mask. Work in a well-ventilated area. Have you seen what excess commas can do to your lungs?)
and eventually it will all be polished to a high shine
and hopefully when someone looks into it
they’ll see their own face reflected back
instead of mine.