Yesterday evening it was so golden and glorious outside and I was feeling so wonderfully restless that I had to do something, so I decided to take a bike ride. Last spring was when I developed my typical bike trail, and in those months of May and June I must have ridden it dozens of times, but I hadn't yet this spring. There is a beautiful freedom in riding your bike down cozy neighborhood roads, without a helmet (yes, I live in the country -- if the road don't have lines on it, ain't wearing no helmet), feeling like you can go anywhere in the world even if you're just a few miles from your house.
(Oh yes...on this bike ride, it occurred to me that I haven't yet given my trusty bike, whom I have had for over a year now, a name. I thought about it for about five seconds and decided to call him Branson. It seems fitting, since my bike is my form of transportation. ANYWAY, there's your random bit of useless Emma-trivia for the day.)
While I sped along on the peaceful city roads, and then out into the more rural countryside, I thought about things.
I just finished my first whole novel a few days ago, and it left me so exhausted and my heart so full I almost didn't know how to respond. I typed the last few words -- "This is June" -- stared at the screen, wanted to burst into tears, and then went and made brownies. Then I emailed my best friend in all caps, wrote down my feelings as best I could put them in my journal, and sort of wandered around in a stupor wondering what normal authors do when they finish their books.
...That makes it sound like I wasn't happy. ;-P Oh, I was happy! Very, very happy. But I think I was so happy I didn't know how to be that happy. Even though I've been dreaming about finishing a book for years, to have it actually happen was catastrophic. Suddenly it's not a dream anymore...it's REAL.
So now, a few days later, I've calmed down a little and can be rationally pleased with myself. ;-) (Just kidding, I still have those ohmygoodness is this for real?! moments.) I really feel like a writer now. I feel legitimate. I feel accomplished. I feel...incredibly blessed.
And finishing June Darling made me realize something. I'd heard Larry McMurtry say this before, but I doubted I'd ever feel the same way. Well, turns out, I do. Because here's what finishing a novel taught me:
The finishing isn't the best part. It's the writing of it that's the best part.
Once I realized this, it made me really happy.
My favorite thing about being a writer? It's not sitting in front of a computer screen typing words like mad. It's not scribbling notes with a dull pencil late at night, or naming characters, or even killing off characters. (Actually I didn't kill anyone in June Darling -- unbelievable.) No, my favorite thing about being a writer is this: the possibilities.
You write a book -- YAY. Now you can write another one. There are always more stories to tell, always new ideas to plot, always new characters to create. The journey never ends.
That makes me a happy writer. :-)
As I was riding my bike, I let my mind run free. I passed houses and wondered about the people who live there, and what stories they might have to tell. I heard noisy truck engines coming down long wooded driveways and it made me grin. I listened to the peepers rejoicing from muddy ditches (man, they were loud last night!) and imagined some of my characters a hundred years ago hearing the same thing of a spring evening. I watched the sun sink in the west. I ate up every sound, every flash of sunlight, and let it sink into my soul. I vowed to write really good stories that will sink into other people's souls and make them happy.
I'm glad I finished June Darling. I'm also glad for the many many pages of drafts and notes stuffed in torn folders that are hanging around my desk -- old stories I've abandoned, and many just waiting for me to look their way again. I'm glad for the possibilities. (Especially those of a Certain Novel which has been dogging me for almost two years and is at this very moment calling me audibly...) I'm glad that no matter how many literary battlefields I conquer, there will always be others waiting for me.
Basically, I love being a writer. ;-)
P.S. Thank you all SO MUCH for all your comments on my last post!!! Seriously, it means SO much to me. The fact that you are all so excited for me is overwhelming, not to mention the fact that people actually want to read my book!!! You're all amazing and I love you.