On Sunday, I hiked with my nine- and eleven-year-olds up the hill we call Pinnacle Mountain. We spent thirty minutes or so at the summit, catching our second wind and taking in the spectacular view, and every few minutes, I would panic, because my five-year-old was missing. Then I'd remember he was with his grandmother, hunting for alligators at the base of the hill, and my heart would start again.
Lots of people have been asking "How does it feel?" to have completed my manuscript. It feels just like that. Brief interludes of satisfaction, punctuated by the sudden, gaping certainty that something Very Important is missing.
I'm also being asked, "What's next?" I've so far resisted responding with "Next, I smack you right in the mouth," because I am practicing my interview skills for when I go on Oprah*.
What's next is making a birthday cake, shaped like a dragon, for my newly-minted six-year-old. Putting on a haz-mat suit, and cleaning the bathrooms. Helping my 5th grader with his science fair project, and taking him shopping for a shirt and tie to wear for his graduation from elementary school. Sewing the new Bear patch on my cub scout's uniform. Taking a deep breath and a hard look at the bills I've been rotating to the back of the stack, the to-do's that keep getting carried over from one day's list to the next and the next.
What's next is doing the same job I've done every day for the past sixteen months, book or no book, but getting to do it without feeling like I'm supposed to be doing anything else. At least until I hear from Oprah.
* I joke. All my hairbrush interviews are with Terri Gross and Craig Ferguson.
Labels: the writing life