You are jabbing at the keys on the keyboard, ferociously typing as if it were my day job. I can picture it now, the heart pounding anticipation that always comes when you are nearing the end of any project. Especially one you have worked tirelessly, scraping the crust out of my eyes as you stagger around my bedroom disoriented, looking for my laptop. That thing in your mind that falsely communicates to the rest of your body that you have, ‘No time left’ and that this just, ‘needs to be completed’ and the emotion is a purveyor of pressure, crushing its victims, aiding anxiety in its quest by incessantly shouting at you,
“If you don’t complete it within the next 10 minutes, you never will! Go, go, go!” It screeches, immediately causing your heart rate to increase at the added pressure your imagination has created. That feeling is like the calm before the storm to you. Only because you know what’s next, the weight of the imaginary pressure lifts, your heartrate slows, and eventually slows, ebbing to its resting state.
As you propel your fingers forward, they ache due to the sheer amount of typing. Much like the last 12 foot of a race, the last push towards victory, where the end is near, you can see the ending, so to do you. Once the final words have been typed and the pressure lifts, it’s pure elation.
Relief, exhaustion, happiness, pride, and exhaustion wash over you, as this leg of the race is completed, and you settle into your proverbial ‘victory lap’ which to you is getting ready for the next theoretical ‘race’ and easing into the editing process. But much like the climax of any good plot or the comedown of any high; the comedown sucks. The same is true of authors, the editing process can either have one feeling like they climbed the tallest mountain, or like they fell as they attempted to climb.
It can be a sobering and uncomfortable realization, and it fills your head with self-doubt, but we aren’t here to talk about the next race. As with all things, one must keep in perpetual motion, ever moving forward, and even the writer is not exempt from this rule. So, you dust off that keyboard, keep going, and no matter how rough the editing process, think of those runners’ highs, and finish the race.
Among the vast amounts of things that could bring you joy, your mind wanders as you stare at the blinking cursor of the blank document, a brief flicker of a memory floats to the top of your consciousness as if it were a helium balloon. You struggle to find the thought and as you do, the full memory comes crashing through the walls of your mind with tremendous force.
You are a child; you’re watching your father adjust his reading glasses as you hand him a piece of paper. The yellow light from the table lamp glows, and you hear the steady inhales and exhales accompanied only by the near silent sound of paper shuffles and cushions being adjusted that’s coming from his direction. You are looking at the carpet, just below his feet in the “crisscross applesauce” way that children gather on the floor to listen to a story. You can’t really place why you are so nervous, although the benefit of hindsight has made you realize that your father’s approval (and the approval of your peers) is that which is your top priority, and you value it, label it, as of the utmost importance that it be acquired.
You pull away from the memory momentarily to shake your head and laugh at the frivolity of being that young and that naïve, and how for granted it was taken.
As you swim back through the memories of time to reach the moment again, why were you so nervous? Then it hits you like a brick through a glass window. The paper you had given him was something that you had written at school, and he was proofreading it for errors, as per the teachers’ instructions. He takes a deep breath, while you wait, your mind drifts between the memory and the present as you wonder why this memory has surfaced.
Your back in the memory, you can smell things in this state? You laugh at the stupidity, while in the privacy of your thoughts, you secretly admit that the scent of your mother’s favorite perfume wafts up to greet your nostrils like stumbling into an old friend and for a moment, you do smell it. It smells of a time long ago, of an era where happiness and joy were abundant, almost infinite.
When the memory is crystal clear in your mind once again, you hear the low, gruff sound your father makes as he attempts to clear his throat and announce with gusto the results of his proofreading, and my heart stills in anticipation as he says,
“Did you really write this?” In a tone you cannot quite discern it’s meaning, because as you recall you never could tell and you still kind of can’t (although his presence or judgement fails to strike the fear of God into your soul anymore) now. You look up, sheepishly, not sure what the results are as he keeps you on the edge of your seat, and you nod, carefully, as if you were made of porcelain and any sudden movement would cause you to crack,
“Well Madelyn,” he looks at you, hand waves and swooshing his hand over the paper like he was trying to swat at a fly as he searches for the correct words to use, continuing on as if he hadn’t kept me waiting in agony, an ocean of anxiety, he continues, “This is wonderful, you have quite a talent there, do you want to be an author?”
In the present, the question makes the lightbulb atop your head light up the dark rooms of your memory, light with recognition and understanding at why this of all the thousands and thousands of times your parents asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, all of the times they had both complimented your writing, and even your therapist trying to convince you of your talent, this memory was placed here, in this space, to remind me of what will always motivate me and what I know to be true and that is: I have always been a writer, I have always been an author, and the completion of a project, article, essay, or book will not only give me energy but will propel me forward to achieve my wildest dreams. Things once thought to be impossible and unattainable.