17 December 2013

A Good Birthday

Today is my birthday. It is a Monday, which is the most unfun day of the week. No one is happy on Monday, except maybe hair stylists, or anyone who works one of those two-days-on, three-days-off shifts. (Thanks, first responders! You deserve extra days off!).

I have spent the last month in a chair, madly editing my manuscript. I entered some RWA chapter writing contests this summer and, being an optimist, fully expected to final. When that proved to be true (yay, me!) I had to sincerely dedicate myself to having a shiny, complete manuscript available for any editors or agents that might come calling. Also, I planned to enter the giant, national, contest-of-all-contests--the Golden Heart, which requires a synopsis, a partial manuscript, and the final manuscript. The deadline for submission was December 13.

So, I typed and typed and typed until my feet were swollen from disuse and my wrists screamed. I probably over-edited, because after a while I lost all perspective on the book. But at 3:23 PM December 13, I typed THE END and sent the whole kit and caboodle off to be judged. Three was sitting on his bed next to me, because I work at his desk. It looks out at the woods and his room is really warm, so my fingers actually bend and type.

"Whoa," he said, with a reverent awe that had eluded me in all the deadline mania.

I looked at those two words and thought the same thing. Whoa. It's done. Three years of writing through crises and illness, joy and pain. Three years of encouragement from friends old and new, three years of figuring out point-of-view.

Last year, my birthday was inescapably sad. The night before my mother died, the family surprised me and my sister Kate with a birthday cake. They brought us into my mother's room and everyone sang, and it was heartwrenching.  It was a stark reminder that she wouldn't be with us in December, a thought I had not yet accepted, and I choked back the tears then as I do now. Weeks later, my sister, Erin, and I travelled into New York City for our annual holiday dinner with my friends. I watched Erin struggle to maintain her composure, wearing the dress she'd bought for Mom's funeral, and I fought harder to stay in the moment so we wouldn't both succumb to the panicky claustrophobia of our new reality.

This year, our annual holiday dinner fell on December 13. The day was crazy--I had to argue with Four and Five to get them to school; drive One to college; shop at Costco in anticipation of the impending storm; put everything away; pick One up; edit and format the manuscript; iron an outfit for Two, who was hosting an event at school; make myself pretty before dashing for the train; and then walk fourteen blocks to the restaurant.

But I smiled the whole way there, as I do today. I finished the book.

Today is my birthday. It is a Monday, and I am happy.

22 comments:

  1. Congrats. I've never had the resolve or the nerve to enter the GH. Yeah, wimpy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A woman who rides in rodeos, runs a ranch, wanders out to collect berries armed with bear spray, and deals with insurance companies for a living IS NOT WIMPY. Furthermore, I aspire to be as fantastic a writer as you.

      Anyway, you already have a fantastic agent, which is kind of the point of the Golden Heart. So, gear up for the RITA!

      Delete
  2. Amazing! I hope to read it one day!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi - First Happy Birthday! Second, it is your name I saw as an Emily finalist, right? That is awesome. Double congrats on finaling and finishing the MS in time for the GH. Celebrate in spite of it being a Monday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is me! I'm tickled you saw it! I taped the congratulatory email to my mirror for inspiration. It's been a great few weeks!

      Delete
  4. Yay for finishing! I'm sending out positive thoughts for the GH award! And I can't wait for that moment when your book is released into the wild, where we can all see it and read it.

    And Hippo Birdies Two Ewes! Glad you are happy. You completely deserve to be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Skye. I know you understand when I say I'm awed by the love and support I feel from all my Betty and writer friends. That has been the greatest gift. Better than contests!

      Delete
  5. Ahhh! Yay! I'm so proud of you! MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! Oh, and not that you'll need it, but good luck.

    Happy birthday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU for being the person who taught me how to write a synopsis, read my query letter, and proofed all my important entries! I don't need the luck because I feel like I've already won.

      Delete
  6. Oh so exciting on some many levels. Pride oozes across the miles from L.I. to Denville and surrounds you with a hug and a kiss! Love you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the ooze! Which is so much better than actually oozing. Thanks for the hugs--I hope we can exchange them in person soon!

      Delete
  7. You looked beautiful this year and last. I forgot about the added Erin bonus last year. How can we arrange for that to be a new tradition?

    I am overwhelming proud of you and the fabulous work you have done on this book. Every time I think you have no more room to amaze me, Boom!, you do it again. Happy Birthday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we'll have to add a mid-year shindig for Erin. She's always willing to leave the desert in the summer!

      If haven't already said it enough, I am a writer because you and Janet said I could do it.

      Boom! Done.

      Delete
  8. Yay for my roomie! I KNEW you could do it! And the Emily, too! (That's the one where I won my "Best of the Best" which gave me the encouragement to keep plugging away.) I am so proud of you. *sniffles* Happy, happy birthday! SMOOCHES.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was so excited! I didn't know that you had won, but I totally understand the uplifting effect. I got really wonderful comments from one of the judges-not just encouragement, but helpful criticism, too. It was awesome. Thanks for the smooches!

      Delete
  9. Happy Belated, officially.

    Love, love, love.
    Because, you know......

    Also? There just aren't enough words to describe how proud we all are of you. (And "we" are a group with lotsa words.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got the "unofficial" wishes, too! I'm pretty proud of myself, but I wouldn't be sitting here if it weren't for all the friends I made from my first foray into the blogosphere.

      I think all things happen as they should, and I love you back.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Thanks, Laurie! It was a great feeling of accomplishment. And now, I've got to revise ONE LAST TIME before sending it off to editors and agents. Seriously, this is the last time (before an editor tells me to do it again!)

      Delete

It is now incredibly easy to comment! Feel free to stop lurking, and add your opinion. Yes, I'm talking to you Moscow, and the Philippines. You, too, Australia. And what's going on down there in Georgia? Do you feel the same as Arizona? Let me know. Politely.