Looking Forward

“Always have something to look forward to” was one of my grandmother’s sage adages, regularly administered to loved ones during times of stress. In these waning (yet persistent) days of winter, I think of her trusty advice, and as I peer into the future, I look forward to . . .

Short-range: Upon waking tomorrow, I will have coffee. I love coffee. It makes mornings far less annoying.

Mid-range: I’ve signed myself up for a “goat yoga” class at a local farm next month. Our stretching and mindfulness practice will be enhanced by the presence of bounding baby goats. I recently attended a “pilates with puppies” class in which I snuggled with puppies the entire time (I might’ve squeezed in a leg lift or two; I don’t really remember), and I expect this to be a similar experience. Plank pose = baby goat platform. I can’t wait.

Long-range: Someday, I hope to be a falconer. The first bird I plan to train is a kestrel, which is a tiny falcon.

LOOK HOW CUTE IT IS!

I’m sure falconry will have its share of frustrations, but omg, that diminutive-yet-fierce bird is ridiculously adorable, and the idea of getting to hang out with one every day is very exciting.

So there we have it – three simple points of anticipation, and I feel pretty great. When it came to mood-boosting strategies, Gaga had it dialed in.

Six Years of Separation

At this time six years ago, Libby the Dog, Sid the Cat, and I were halfway through our three-month stint on Orcas Island, and I was 100 pages into Aret. By the time we left Orcas, I’d written a raw first draft, though it was more of a blurry blueprint than a book. Four years later, I published a better version. The other night, I completed a MUCH better version. Now, it’s in the hands of a group of editors, and I get to step away from revision-mode, which is a huge relief.

My youngest nephew is three. When he attempts a task without immediate success, he pitifully cries, “I can’t!” But because he’s a resilient little guy, he keeps trying, and when he succeeds (usually within about five seconds), he joyfully exclaims, “I did it!” That 180-degree emotional shift is something I experienced about ten thousand times during Aret’s grueling rewrite. I’d hit a phrase, sentence, or paragraph that stopped me dead, decide I was the worst writer in history and a complete idiot to think I could write a whole goddamn book, and seriously consider smashing my computer. Then I’d keep trying, fix the problem, and think, I did it! I do know how to write! Yay!

When I finished Aret’s first draft, if someone had mentioned how long it would take to complete the final edit, I might’ve thrown the manuscript in the trash. Six years is quite a stretch of time, and a lot has changed since 2012. Loved ones have been gained and lost. Much of my hair has turned white. My husband and I have begun the debate I remember my parents having throughout my childhood: You’re Going Deaf vs. You’ve Started Mumbling. A wrist brace has been added to my already super-sexy nighttime routine (mouthguard + earplugs + wrist brace = HOT). And I’ve gone from watching bald eagles outside my cottage on Orcas to having a Harris’ hawk perch on my hand.

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Several weeks back, when I mentioned to my sister that I was editing Aret, she replied with this text: What. Are. You. Talking. About. Why oh why would you do that to yourself???  She had a good point. But now that the travail is over, I feel like my nephew with his beatific smile, glorying in an accomplishment that once seemed impossible. I suppose that’s another thing that’s changed since 2012: I have a new role model who’s three years old.

 

[P.S. ~ If your takeaway from this post was: Hey, I want a hawk on my hand, too!  and you happen to be in Western North Carolina, you can experience an afternoon of falconry here: http://curtiswrightoutfitters.com/falconry/. It is truly amazing.]