Picture this. A teen girl, newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Lucy has a devastating past to leave behind and an uncertain future to embrace; it feels like she’s already hit bottom, but who knows? She sits on her parents’ front porch, cross-legged, with a guitar propped in her lap. It smells like rain. Her wannabe boyfriend urges her to play her latest song for him. A damp breeze wafts over them as she sings:
Walkin’ on a tightrope, and waiting to slip and die
Insanity, dread, and a screwed-up mind in my head
But I know there is really no reason for fright
God’s love is waitin’ to catch me when I dive
C’mon everybody, let’s go for a dive
Right into his love and be energized
I’ve gotta load of cares to leave behind
a heart of tears and sorrows, just unkind
Seems like a scary thing to change my life
but He’s the One who can set me right
and I’ve got life ’cause He first died
So c’mon, everybody, let’s go for that dive
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Take a deep breath, hold hands and count to three
Step off and plunge into the love that we really need
Don’t fear nothin’ cause there’s nothin’ left to fear
only fear itself and that ain’t stopping me
Right now, I feel a little like my character, fearing leaving the past behind. It’s familiar. I look back over my blog posts, horrible first drafts, revisions, and lists of books I’ve read (and been influenced by) and know where I’ve been. And even when it’s painful—and parts of this past year were painful—it’s hard to leave it behind, as hard as diving off a tightrope with no safety net below.
Yet it’s necessary, and not only because the month of January has begun already, regardless of my personal preferences. T.S. Eliot wrote:
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
An ending is a chance for a beginning. The ending of Lucy’s (tight)rope is the beginning of an exhilarating and frightening free fall into love, in all its many manifestations. Ending the revision process of this novel means beginning the writing process of another one, with all the joys and heart/headaches inherent in telling a story and finding each word a home. And when that ends, there will be another beginning, another story.
And maybe this story will be even greater than the one before.