As I dressed, it occurred to me that the process of preparing to meet the exam had not been without its gifts. The effort to put on paper the details that would allow the auditor to understand the nature of my work, forced me to grapple in a new way with a nonfiction book I am writing. Suddenly, I understood exactly how to organize it, I knew exactly what voice to use. I realized that so many of the random narratives I had been writing, stories that forced their way out of me, were in fact part of the book. I have chapters already completed!
And I realized that even though I have recently felt as if I didn't care one bit if I ever published another book, now the stirrings were in me again, I wanted this one to see the light, to exist in a form as substantial as Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club and Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns, which I now understood to be the godparents of my own effort. Both of these books are masterful pieces of literature, one of fiction, the other narrative nonfiction, and they are by writers whose voice and sensibility and practice put them at the very pinnacle of their craft. But, presumptuous as it might sound, these are the two books that, if they could birth a child, might produce the book I am trying to write—the book I finally understand that I am writing.
How did the audit go? Meh. It continues. But now I am calm. I know what its purpose in my life has been. So thank you, Uncle Sam. I know you'll take your pound of flesh but I got something, too.