All my writing projects are stalled for one reason or another, so I’ve been going through my creative writing folder, deleting the embarrassing and playing around with the funny or poetic. My favorite so far is a document where I dumped a bunch of conversations from the boys when they were younger. I planned to write a book featuring Owl, Donkey, and Goat, where Vincenzo was the owl, Rocco the donkey, and Leo the goat. Will this ever happen? I don’t know! But I decided to share with you the first entry from that journal because it made me smile.
Owl sat in the back seat lecturing Donkey, who had just waved goodbye to the sky.
“You can never say goodbye to the sky—it will always be there.”
Donkey kept interrupting the lecture to wave goodbye to the sky.
“Now I’ve waved goodbye to the sky several times.”
Goat, meanwhile, sat placidly in the middle seat eating the blanket he was wearing after soiling all the clothes he was wearing earlier in the day. Mom glanced at back him. He stopped chewing and smiled back with crystal clear eyes.
“The clouds are going away,” Donkey said.
“No, the clouds are coming,” Owl said.
A heated debate ensued.
“The clouds are coming, right Mom?” Owl asked.
“M-hm,” said Mom, who hadn’t been listening.
“Told you!” Owl said.
Donkey released an unholy scream. Mom rewound the past minute in her head, the part she had heard but hadn’t listened to, and cued into the debate.
“Boys! Boys!” the screaming stopped. “Maybe you are both wrong. Maybe the clouds are staying exactly where they are and it’s us that are coming or going.”
That was a complex enough thought to quiet them for a bit, except for the sounds of chewing.
Last week I finished revisions on my twelfth and final story for the Woodland Creatures collection. Twelve stories for summer, twelve for winter, with a cast of characters who have become as dear to me as my friends. When I reread the stories, the twists and turns, the spots of humor, the brand new slurry words I put together myself—it delights me as if I’m reading a story someone else wrote. I don’t even cringe. Imagine, Me! Not cringing at my own work! (I’ve already cringed a dozen times rereading drafts of this blog.)
I attached the twelfth story to an e-mail and sent it to my writing coach, then sat there feeling…everything. Happy and sad. Empty and full. Rich as a dragon sitting on her jewels. Lost as a knight without a quest. Joyful as a kite taken up by the wind. Empty as an echo. Full as a sunset. Quiet as a corner.
I’m trying not to look at what comes next—that word that starts with the letter “q” and closely rhymes with “worrying.” I have such PTSD from previous attempts at doing that q thing that I can’t even write the word without reaching for a paper bag. But I have to go forward because I want these stories to make it into big hands and little ones, into circle times and rocking chairs, into libraries and pillow forts and backpacks. I want kids to grow up with these stories filling their minds and shaping their hearts.
So I clicked “send” on the twelfth story. Then I wrote all my thoughts and emotions in my journal and finished by adding, And now, I will rest awhile.
I sat there a moment more, thinking how nice a rest is going to be.
Then I started thinking about the second story I ever wrote. The one about the boy in the pink, glitter, light-up boots. The one I loved so much.
So I opened it up.
And then I got to work.