What I Did on My Summer Vacation

As of tomorrow, summer is officially coming to an end. And so is my summer sabbatical.

Summer in the South is a lot like winter in upstate New York, where I grew up. The view outside my window is deceptively pretty but actually stepping outside is a nightmare. I wear the same six outfits on repeat for what feels like forever and I’m sick of all of them. There are friends that I didn’t see for months because even the thought of making plans to leave the house was exhausting. And because I spent the majority of my time huddled indoors, it’s the perfect time to write. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing basically every spare moment since March.

And finally, after all that work (and anxiety and doubt) I finished the second draft of the novel I started during NaNoWriMo 2018. At over ninety-thousand words, it’s the longest thing I’ve ever written, including my master’s thesis. And I’d expected to feel something when I typed “The End”. Relief, joy, even sadness over parting with my characters. Instead, I compiled the document for the last time, closed my laptop and kind of shrugged with a, “well, I guess that’s done” kind of feeling.

Maybe it’s because I know there’s still a lot of revision work ahead of me so it’s not really done. Maybe it’s because for the last month or so I’ve been looking ahead to the story I want to write for NaNoWriMo 2019. But I also suspect that it has something to do with my meds not quite working as well as they used to. I’ve been on Lexapro since college and it’s always worked fine for me. But lately, I’ve realized that working fine isn’t the same as working well. And “fine” is perfect for not-final drafts, but not so much for my brain chemistry.

Then again, the achievement of finishing this book draft might simply have gotten overshadowed in my brain by the other big thing I did while I was away from this blog: I got married! There are so many cliches that are absolutely true about getting married: the day passed in a blur, no one noticed the little details I stressed about for months, and though things didn’t go exactly the way I thought, it was no big deal. But there are also a ton of cliches that weren’t true for us. My husband is the crier (along with his brother, the best man) while I only teared up once or twice. There was no family drama, despite the potential for a lot of it. And despite what I’d been told to expect, actually being married doesn’t feel that different from the commitment we’d made to each other simply by living together and adopting two pets.

In fact, the first real, “holy crap, I’m married” moment I had was when I printed out my manuscript with my new full name on the title page. It’s a name I’m still growing into, like a new pair of shoes that are still a little stiff or a suit that makes you feel like you’re playing dress-up. But it feels like an author’s name. And seeing it there, in print, across the front of the first real revision I’ve ever done gave me this feeling like, “oh my god, it’s really real.” The life that I’ve always wanted for myself, as a writer and a person, is actually coming together in a way that feels really tangible. Which is a pretty good way to spend a summer.

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