I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about why I do things and the question of why I write is one I return to over and over again. For a long time, when someone would ask me this question (or when I would explore it myself), the answer would come, not in the form of words, but in a feeling. A standing-on-top-of-a-mountain feeling. Or a sitting-around-a-campfire feeling. Or a staring-up-into-a-perfectly-clear-night-sky feeling. I knew what the answer felt like but I hadn’t yet found the words to describe it.
Enter Brené Brown.
Meet Lester! He’s a smart, funny ten-year-old kid with big ideas and an even bigger heart. And in the summer of 2017, he’ll be coming to a bookstore near you.
I first met Lester about a year and a half ago, which feels weird to say because at that point, I’d been writing his story for over six years. But until that snowy January morning when I received the initial cover art, I hadn’t ever really seen his face.
A few weeks ago, I received the galley of Superstar, my first novel. (A galley is basically a bunch of printed pages that show what a book will look like between the covers. It means the book is almost done. It also means that this would be my final opportunity to make changes to the text.)
“You got something from your publisher,” Tony said when he brought in the mail that evening. “And it’s really thick. Think it’s the ARC?”
I knew it couldn’t be the Advanced Reader Copy. Not yet. There were still galley pages to review.
Oh crap. It’s the galley.
Isn’t summer the best time to fall in love? Actually, I don’t know if that’s true for me. Almost all of my relationships began when the ground was still covered with snow. But still, there’s something about those warm summer nights that beg to be shared. I think Joni Mitchell might have described it best in “Both Sides Now.”
Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy, dancing way that you feel.
As every fairy tale comes real;
I’ve looked at love that way.
But as hinted at in the last line of that stanza, “Both Sides Now” isn’t a song about love. Not exactly. It’s a song about looking back and seeing that things weren’t always what you thought they were, about realizing how much you still have left to realize.
I went on a walk yesterday, down streets and sidewalks and a trail that eventually brought me to this scene.
It was beautiful, yes. But it wasn’t the sun-dappled path or the depth of green that made me stand there and wait for the bicycle guy to pedal around the bend so I could snap a photo. Floating across the path were dozens of tiny cottonwood seeds, each held aloft by a little ball of white fuzz. But picture after picture failed to capture even a single one. They were too small, too unassuming.
As a kid, the entire Christmas season lead up to that moment on Christmas morning when I got to open up all my presents. I’d wake up long before the sun had even considered peeking over the horizon, run into my parents’ room, and let them know that it was TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It was a big moment.
There are a lot of Christmas mornings in life of a writer. The day you get that book deal. The day the you receive a starred review. The day your book wins that award. (You know the one I’m talking about.) These moments stand out there on the horizon, beckoning us toward them, and promising so much happiness and fulfillment if we can just get there.
I was supposed to see the Rocky Mountains for the first time yesterday. My train was supposed roll into Rocky Mountain country between 6:45 and 7:30 pm. We were supposed to cross the trestlework bridge, and I was supposed to see those snow-capped peaks reflecting the reds and purples of the setting sun, just like the picture on Amtrak’s website.
When we crossed into Montana from North Dakota at 3:00 pm, I checked the train schedule. We were running three hours late. At sunset, we were still moving through the Montana prairie. We wouldn’t reach the mountains until the middle of the night. And by the time the sun would rise the next morning, the mountains would be far behind us. I was going to miss the Rockies completely.