What can you do in seven years? A lot, honestly. In my life alone, the past seven years have seen tons of events: I worked in three school districts, I finished my masters degree, I moved into three different houses (maybe four? The timeline is a little blurred.) I watched my wife graduate from medical school, go through residency, and begin her career as a doctor and medical educator. I played Carnegie Hall–twice! I became a parent.
I did a lot. A lot. And it’s not until I start to make a bullet point list that I start to see just how much my life has changed in seven years; just how productive my life has been.
But in those seven years, I did not find productivity in the area that matters the most: writing. Sure I’ve written casually, here and there. In the past seven years I’ve finished two manuscripts. I know that that is two more manuscripts than many people write in their entire lifetime. But I’m a writer. That is the way I label myself. I am a writer first, and everything comes second–at least when it comes to my career goals. I am a writer, and then I am a musician, an artist, a teacher, etc.
Last week I finished proofreading and editing my manuscript for We Were Giants, my second full manuscript. It’s a story that means a lot to me. I discovered my love of art through this book. When I began writing it, I was not an artist, myself. Hours of research for my characters, however, led me to discover my own passions for art. And that, alone, is a perfect example of what books can do for us. They teach us about ourselves in unexpected ways. I just didn’t realize that were true if you were the author, too.
I finished writing that book in 2017 and promptly took a break from writing. I had in the span of three years written two full manuscripts and completed a masters degree–including a thesis. I was out of words and needed break. I just never expected my break would last so long. I have worked on several projects since then, don’t get me wrong. Some of them have real promise; I just haven’t been able to commit to them the way they deserve. But from writing the last word of the epilogue of We Were Giants to last week, nearly five years have passed. Five years that I have left these characters unresolved. Seven years that I have left commas that don’t belong, spelling and grammatical errors, and plot lines that make no sense. Seven years that I have called myself a writer, and done nothing with this completely finished work.
So I got to it. I exported my book to my Kindle and I read through the entire thing for the first time in seven years. I rediscovered my characters. I fell back in love with them. I cried with them. It was like an entirely new book to me. I had fresh eyes and more experience behind me. I had a refreshed spirit for Cade and Isaiah and everything they were going through. It was like meeting them for the first time. And it was delightful.
I was hard on myself at first for letting five years pass so easily without paying attention to my beloved creation, this book that I cared for and loved over two years. This manuscript that filled every corner of my existence for so long. I had just let go. I had just let it lie forgotten.
But I’ve found a new outlook. I’m not angry at myself or hard on myself anymore. Their story’s not over yet, and mine’s not even. They needed a break and I needed a break. And here we are, reunited and ready to take on the world.
So let’s see where Cade and Isaiah take me. Their story is seven years in the making. Let’s see how they change the world. I’m ready.