Dates and numbers hold significant meaning to me. Even my children’s birthdays have symmetry and order – one by happenstance, the other by design. So although the contract was offered in March, I waited until my oldest son’s birthday to sign it.
Signing that contract on the day of my first born’s birth seemed cyclical. For it was only three years before, his brother not yet born, when we went to the zoo and he asked me the most simple yet puzzling of all questions: “What do all the animals do after everyone goes home?” He is now six, his little brother three – and the answer to the question is contained in the pages of a 32-page picture book.
After accepting that offer, I went through a range of emotions. I screamed. I cried. I celebrated. But then…I stalled. More time passed. Stuck.
I found myself locked in a car that was parked in neutral with its four-way flashers on – blink, blink…blink, blink…blink, blink. A year ago, I accelerated my writing – revising, redrafting, sending out query letters, receiving rejections, rewriting again, and sending out more query letters. And then it happened! I reached my destination. An offer. A contract. Published!
But it seemed my brain – its creative spark – would not ignite. There was no sputter, no grinding, no sound. It was simply…just gone. I didn't write…for months. The keyboard called out, but I didn’t listen; I wouldn’t hear. Was this my future? I sign one contract, and I flame out?
Then something happened, much like that peak I traveled only a few short months before. I had surpassed that summit. I was on the descent…travelling down…low…lower. A valley was on the horizon. And that flame I thought had been extinguished…I thought had gone out? It hadn’t. It had faded – now a dull blue, almost violet really. But at its center, the heat was still there. It just needed to be stoked. And when I hit that valley, I had two choices: brake until I came to a stop, or accelerate for another climb.
So this is me. Starting over. My next manuscript is complete – written in a fury to be sure. But I believe it’s my best story yet. And like me, it’s ready to go back out into the world. It’s ready for its own journey. The difference now is I won’t be looking in the rear view mirror. Instead, I’ll be looking at that open road, watching for the next crest to rise.