I am about four chapters from finishing my first novel. This is a monumental occasion as it has been in the works for over ten years. I’ve picked it up every few years, added a few paragraphs, and then felt utterly lost. Each time I’d shuffle it into another pile of ever growing papers.
Much of this novel has been written at the kitchen table. I have a desk and comfy chair on the second floor of my house, but for some reason I had avoided it. Yesterday, it dawned on me that the room was where I spent the bulk of time with my toxic ex. We did most everything in that room–write, listen to music, make art, and laugh. It was a room where mostly good things happened. I’m not afraid of the good things, but the further away from that relationship I get, the more I understand that the bad things were just under the surface.
My poor child has also had to suffer moving all of my things out of the way to eat a bowl of cereal each day and the near act of God it takes to eat dinner. My stuff is everywhere. It isn’t fair to them. So, I took the desk apart and hauled the awkward pieces down by myself, praying to not fall down the stairs to my death. I reassembled it under the pictures of my family, all of them gone now except my brother and my kid. What stares me in the face are the people that have loved me the most.
Coming to the end of a journey like finishing a novel requires love from those around you, but also love for yourself. I needed to recreate my writing space where it was something special to me. I needed it to be in the center of my home because my process for writing involves moving around when I get stuck and snacks. I like being near the snacks. But most of all, I like the ghosts of my life smiling down on me, encouraging me to keep going.
There is just enough space open on the wall in front of me to start planning the next book. We all have to take advantage of the small steps that lead to big ideas.