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.