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.