55,000. 54,267 to be exact. On February 15th, 2020, that's how many words I'd typed in a novel set to be released in late March or early April. My deadline was approaching, a date with my editor set. I wasn't worried. I've always worked well under pressure. Only 20,000 more words were needed to reach my goal of 75k, a general concept of appropriate length (approximately 300 pages). Granted, because I write without an outline (gasp), the story itself is in charge. It ends when it wants to end. Still, it helps me to have a finish line.
Twenty-thousand words seems like a lot, I realize. For a novelist, however, it's really not. Two-to-three thousand words a day is easily doable. The manuscript would have been done in a week. Maybe two if I took some days off.
Five months later, it sits unfinished on my laptop.
Years ago, when I told Don I wanted to quit my job, finish my degree, and write for a living, my dear husband could barely contain his horror. But the poor man loved me so much he gave me the green light to toss my moderate yearly income and pursue my dream. Much later, after publishing my fourth novel, he finally decided it was time to read one of them. So I gave him an early copy of my first foray into suspense. When he finished it, I asked him what he thought. I'll never forget the look on his face - the pride, the astonishment tinged with embarrassment.
It was in that moment I realized he hadn't known I possessed any marketable talent. This man had given me my dream not knowing if I would (or could) succeed. He'd done it out of love, at the risk of financial burden, all because it was something I needed to do to be happy. And he kept doing it. Giving me my dream, over and over.
We used to joke about the future day when I'd gift him with early retirement. But it wasn't a joke to me. I wanted so desperately to give him that which he'd given me - freedom to pursue his own dreams. Those dreams varied and shifted often. Open a restaurant. Start a nonprofit that offered underprivileged kids the opportunity to surf, skateboard, and snowboard. Build furniture. Flip houses.
I wanted to give him all of it. And I would have. Someway. Somehow. My dream would have given him his. That was the biggest, best dream of all.
Do you feel it? Can you imagine it? The quiet nothingness inside me where dreams used to live?
Every once in a while, I close my eyes, turn inward, and listen to that space. The white noise of it. Hoping to catch a glimpse of something growing.
But there's nothing yet.