Last night at about 2 am, I sent in my last edits for my first book. As powerful as the relief was knowing that it was “complete,” I felt a strange loss that I wasn’t expecting.
For the past two years and eight months, I have been thinking about my book. I started it on January 18, 2013 and since that first click of the first key, it has been on my mind. As I washed dishes, as I folded laundry, as I drove around running errands, I would be thinking about “Ella.” I would go through it in my mind over and over again, wondering if I had adequately explained what I meant, without actually saying what I meant. Was I clear without being obvious? Were my characters consistent, yet evolving? Did I use the right words? There were so many times that I would have to drop whatever I was doing, run to the computer and switch one word that felt out of place in my mind. And once it was changed to that perfect word, it was like I was coming up out of the water after holding my breath.
There is always something that can be fixed or changed. That is the beauty and frustration of creating. The process of perfecting this little creation of mine is (or has been) never-ending. When Mr. Rochester asked Jane Eyre if she was satisfied with her paintings, she replied, “Far from it. I was tormented by the contrast between my idea and my handiwork: in each case I had imagined something which I was quite powerless to realise.” That is the frightening part: knowing what is good and knowing that my abilities, or lack thereof, might prevent me from creating something that I know is good.
But, the beautiful part of creating something is knowing that this idea that began while I read a story to my little boy has evolved and taken on a life of its own, almost separate from me–though always connected to me. It is a part of me, though it has grown to be outside of my own mind and heart and will soon be a part of other people’s minds and hearts. That sharing of my creation is both humbling and terrifying. And that was what I felt last night. Even after I hit “send” and went to bed and tried to go to sleep, the butterflies in my stomach would not allow it.
I realized that I could no longer be selfish with my little Ella. What began as a fun project became a journey I never could have dreamed of; a dream that came true before I even knew I dreamed it.
I will miss my little late-night “conversations” with just Ella and me, while I sat at the computer or wrote my notes, watching her grow, and hoping that I grew right along with her. Crying when she cried. Cheering her on when everything fell apart. Knowing why she smiled, even if I didn’t always give a reason.
“Ella” is being printed as I write this. She is coming to life, even as a part of me has to let go of just the dream of her. She is now a reality. A reality that I now get to share with everyone.
And that is the beauty of it all.