It’s strange that the end of this challenge coincides with the end of my summer break. This break wasn’t nearly as exciting as last year’s bucket list trip to Ireland and Denmark, but it was still a summer of accomplishment for me. I was able to finish the book I promised I’d write this year, and as it turns out, the whole thing may be ready to go live tomorrow. That’s not a giant launch like I dreamed of when I was younger, but I’m still so thrilled to have finished another book.
I remember when I first challenged myself to write a book it was a romance novel and it was 1988 or 1989, I can’t even remember which. I got a credit card – the first I’d had since paying off the ones from my first marriage that I’d never even had the chance to hold much less use, and I bought a laptop computer. That was a very big deal because they didn’t make laptops back then. I’d had a personal computer before, a Kaypro, but this was a real, live laptop computer, one that didn’t weigh 35 pounds like the Kaypro I’d been using to type student papers for extra money for years. I was taking care of my grandmother on Cosmo Hill, but she was in the hospital, so for a few, short weeks, the house was completely silent and free of the whoosh, whoosh sounds of the oxygen machine that punctuated every moment like a delirious drummer on an LSD trip. With all that silence, I set to work and wrote a whole novel, Rear View Mirrors in a matter of two weeks. I sent it out, got a rejection letter, and gave up on writing because I’d proved my point that I really was able to write a full-length book.
Today, on Day 28, I worked really hard finishing up other small jobs and getting the final pieces of the new book pulled together, making changes in the cover design and text, and figuring out the small things no one tells you about, like how to get a UPC code to go with the ISBN number you didn’t know you’d have to get either. It was all done and ready for the final touches from the graphic artist by 3:30, just as my colleague and friend, Marvin, pulled in the drive with his five year-old daughter and another young child, full of energy and ready to play. I remember being five and having loads of energy and getting a chance to run and play with other little kids, so I was ready for these two with a fresh batch of pizza pinwheels and chocolate chip cookies, the soft kind made from Leslie Kannus’s New York State Fair-winning recipe. After all of the tedium of dotting i’s and crossing t’s in the book, it was so nice to be able to just play and watch the kids as their dad and Dan and I tried to have a conversation over the squeals and interruption of the kids. I think the cookies and pizza pinwheels and walking the kids around the yard as they sat atop Josie, who was delighted to be useful this afternoon despite the heat, was my gift for the day.
With just one day left on the 29 Gift challenge, I think the second gift today was knowing that I’ve actually followed through on this for the entire project. I’ve learned some things about myself and my willingness to give, and I’ve learned what things are harder for me to let go of and give freely. I think I’ll try to do this again, but I’m holding my final decision until tomorrow when I finally complete the 29 day challenge and think about where to take this journey next.