A few days ago while walking Toby along the river bank I made the coolest discovery. If I walk along the tops of the biggest rocks, it feels like I'm flying. After the first few steps I get some momentum going so I barely touch the tops of the rocks and I become weightless and no longer earthbound.
I have to be careful, to concentrate and to choose the rocks carefully. A loose one will end my flight instantly and could result in a nasty spill and possibly hurt body parts. Silt covered rocks and damp ones have the same potential. The feeling of unrestrained freedom, the complete lifting of my being without effort makes the risk worthwhile, however.
This morning while I was in flight, a rock wobbled underfoot. My mom's voice came suddenly to my ears, loudly as though she were traveling on my shoulder.
"If you get hurt, you'll have no one to blame but yourself."
How many times in my life have I held myself back because of that statement? How many times have I done the safe thing so that I wouldn't be hurt and so that I couldn't be blamed? How much of the sky have I not seen in my efforts to please the voice that will not be pleased?
My heart voice replied to the Mommy voice - gently, quietly and firmly. "Hurt happens no matter whether I keep my feet on the ground or whether I soar. It's not wrong to want to fly. It's what I need to do. So, there will be no blame."
I finished my book on Friday. I was so busy trying to get this draft done before the weekend that I hadn't really focused on the fact that when the printer whirred out the last page it meant I had a real honest-to-goodness book in my hands. The product of a year and a half of work. A title. A subtitle. Chapters. Beginning. Middle. End. 282 pages. A book.
When I took it to the store to have one copy made to share with one trusted soul, the man helping me seemed impressed by the size of the stack of papers I handed him.
"This a book?"
"Yes. I just finished it this afternoon."
"You wrote this? Are you a writer?"
"Yup." I'm smiling big.
"You somebody famous?"
"Not yet." I don't think he got that, but I did. The brave words flew out of my mouth without my permission. I would have given them permission if they'd asked.
From the printer to the post office to send my book to that one trusted soul I find myself smiling gently. The line is long and for once, I don't really care. I stand with my precious package held to my chest, kind of hoping someone will ask me what's in it. No one does, but when I finally get to the counter I tell the clerk that my package is a manuscript. She smiles, says, "Congratulations." and ships it cheap - book rate.
For the rest of the day I occupy the same sky my rock flying takes me to. I am a writer. I wrote a book. No one says, "Who do you think you're fooling?" No one says, "If this doesn't work, you'll have no one but yourself to blame." Nothing matters except that I've accomplished this book. I know the book is not finished. There's a lot of work ahead, and at least two more drafts to complete. There's sharing the book with more than one person, getting feedback, getting an editor, finding an agent. There's the photo for the back of the book and my outfit for Oprah. I'm scared by some of what's ahead, by a lot of it if I'm honest, but I am not going to bind myself to the earth to feel safe this time.
Tomorrow I will be flying literally - in a plane, not under my own wing power. I'm leaving for Scotland with a new friend for an adventure of new places, new people and more uncertainty in nine days than I usually allow myself in nine months. I will look for the big rocks to fly across so that I don't miss a single bit of the sky.
Photo by x-jax-x from Flickr