Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The biggest fan

Just look at the face on that adorable book.
Once, I went to Boston, an hour away, to attend a writer's conference. For the first time, I would meet an agent, and pitch a novel. 
I was nervous.  
I accessorized this future memory with the most luxurious detail available. I booked a limo and a room at the Boston Harbor Hotel, which is a place one doesn't visit, but experiences, between the Molton Brown skincare products and view of the harbor alone. 
I ordered lobster and stared at the water. In twenty-four hours, I thought, I would be mulling over new information about my career, because back then, I didn't know I already had that information.  
I carried a book by Elizabeth Berg, an uber-relatable writer who seemed a little like me, but who actually seems a lot like everyone. I wondered if people would ever think that about my writing.
I brought a collection of Enrico Morricone songs played by YoYo Ma. This, I planned, would be the soundtrack for my experience if down the road, I forgot the way this felt, to chase a dream that probably wouldn't come true, but, oh my God, might. 

And there we sat, me and next-me, eating lobster and looking at the harbor. Not the me helping kids into college, or encouraging a husband through a rough patch in his business, or running a household, or being a good sister or friend or daughter or community volunteer. 

The afternoon darkened over the water and I began to think about giving up. Next-me would be too hard. But how hard? I was afraid. But I was euphoric. I was going to lose something in the morning. But I was going to gain something in the morning, too. The something was hope.

Today, I'm a few years and two books and many articles away from that weekend at the Boston Harbor when I was introduced to the two people who encouraged me to stay in the game: the agent who requested a full manuscript, and next-me, my often fickle, but honest and lifelong fan who has been at my side every day of my writing career, saying if you quit, you won't know how it turned out.   
In May, I am planning to go back to that conference with another book to pitch. I'll meet an agent who might request a full manuscript. I'll send it and maybe I won't get a response. Maybe I will. I don't know. What matters is that I will not be figuring it out, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, on my own. 
I'll be in the company of my biggest fan.  We're looking forward to it. 
Be that. Be your own fan. Be next-you. 
Never give up.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

First baby, first a lot of things

Courtney Elizabeth Bonifant Watson Dollface,
Birthday girl of my heart
When Courtney Elizabeth Bonifant Watson Dollface was born thirty years ago, after a labor that was several years longer than I'd expected, I had two thoughts other than, "Wow, they weren't kidding about how much THAT hurts."

The first was that life as I'd known it now seemed behind me, a large room I'd exited in which the shades had been mostly, but not completely raised. Life had been a place I'd learned to navigate with my own welfare at the center of my travels.

But this – this new life was wide, brilliant and brighter. Anything was possible in this travel and my own welfare stepped right up and said, "I'm all set, give her my place." 

The other came later on when I realized I believed in God after all. I had no formal take on God, I wasn't feeling the robe and beard and walking stick kind of God, I had to make God up in my head. But I propped my tiny baby against my knees, stared into her drifty, navy blue eyes, and promised her everything in my power to protect her. From my heart, slipped a word aimed at something bigger than both of us, which was, "Please." 

There was no scary roar, the walls didn't shake, it wasn't like when Endora was mad at Darrin. Nor was it like the time I put my hands together as a child, closed my eyes and asked God to turn me into a cat for a day. God didn't respond with "Please what?" My God just went straight to the business of quid pro quo: 

Every minute of my life, I would love this being with my own, and in turn, I would find answers to questions in my head of how and what and what-if inside that big, brand new love in my heart.

Today, my tiny Dollface is thirty. I have asked my God more times than I can count to help me trust that she is safe when she's far away, that she's happy when I can't consult her eyes for proof, that she'll be strong in times of conflict, and that she'll know each minute of every day that she is loved for the brilliant, bright being that she is.

"Noted," says my God when I ask, because my God remembers that day like I do, when we all met.

Happy Birthday, my girl.

You are loved like you read about.