I remember drawing pictures of bunny families on stapled pages. My mother wrote the words down that I was too young to write myself, on those pages that she had stapled together to create my “bunny books”.
I remember a notebook with wide lines. Sitting on a small chair in the elementary school’s library, reading the story that I’d written on those lines to a bunch of other children seated on the ground before me.
I remember a hard-backed book. Holding this masterpiece of an art project in my hands that my 2nd or 3rd grade teacher had created for our class, where she built each student a bound book out of cardboard, masking tape, a story we’d written, and a cover we’d drawn.
I remember a three-ring binder. Different colors for different years. Full of poems and short stories, that some of my dear friends humored me and read during biology class or after field hockey practice.
I remember a sticker on my bedroom window. Proudly placing it there for an essay that I’d written about friendship. About friends who are unexpected, everyday heroes for simply being themselves and being kind.
I remember the voice of the announcer Senior year. Walking across the track at Homecoming, smiling at my good friend, as I heard the words over the speaker that I planned to “. . .and write books”.
I remember those middle years of growth. College: time with friends, research papers, and a black notebook full of poems for a creative writing class. Work: learning so much, and happily pushing myself with projects that gave me an outlet for my love of research. Marriage. Babies. And more babies. ❤
I remember the people who quickly became my writing circle. Who listened, questioned, supported, and challenged me to keep going, to learn, to put in the time, to put in the effort, and to simply keep on going.
I remember the friends who checked in on me. Said things like “I always knew you were a writer” or simply “how is the writing going?”, giving me massive encouragement without ever realizing just how powerful small gestures can be.
I remember the first draft. The second. The highs and lows. The moments that humbled me and the moments that I celebrated. The fifth draft. The second story. The third story. The edits. The endless edits. The rewrites. The research. The hope. The fear. The doubt. The crippling doubt. The renewed hope.
And then came this.
Five years of building this world.
Twenty-six years after that jumbled voice on that speaker.
Thirty-some years after feeling mesmerized, as I ran my hand over that bound book.
Forty-some years after my bunny books.
I held this in my hands. The proof copy of my debut novel.
I see all of those old stories, old friends and old moments, here in my hands.
And I see that old dream, renewed, and soon to be realized.
What an absolute joy this is ❤