I spent most of the day writing yesterday, finishing up the last of the edits on Troubled Waters before I could, in good conscience, turn my attention to the new one. After a major rewrite, it looks and feels far more polished than it did a month ago. I faced down glaring problems, cut and rewrote some major scenes, sat back and looked at it with satisfaction.
I am a brilliant writer, I announced to the nearest boy.
"Cool," he said absently, plugging away on whatever video game they're playing online at present. "What's for supper?"
So much that burst of confidence.
That project completed, I've turned my now undivided attention to The Dotted Line (it needs a better title). In two days I've written over five thousand words and can feel the momentum tugging it along; it is almost writing itself. This is likely to be my strongest work to date.
Later I raked leaves in the late afternoon sun, carrying wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow load to the pile of mulch behind the garden. I am rich with leaves and kitchen scraps and watching the hill of leaves grow is like laying up treasures for the future. Pausing, I pulled a few stray weeds from around my broccoli and lettuce. Solomon lay nearby watching with interest as I went about my business. I know he has to wonder why I feel the need to carry yard debris from one place to another, but he's faithful in his attendance even if he doesn't understand it.
I could feel someone else watching though and I looked up to find Gary standing on the back steps watching me.
"I just wanted to come out and tell you something," he said.
"Oh. Okay." So I stretched my complaining back and waited.
"I'm glad you're still here."
"You choose to stay when there's nothing that says that you have to."
"Except for my marriage vows."
"Would that really be enough by itself? If you really wanted to go?"
No. I had to admit. It certainly wasn't just about the vows. Or, for that matter, the love. As anybody who's been married longer than ten years can tell you, while powerful, love isn't enough by itself. Sometimes you just stay because it's the right thing to do, and sometimes you stay because of the kids, other times you stay because he's not just your lover but your best friend and without him there's no place else to go, but eventually stay because you know that this too shall pass and that the good times will be back if you'll stay on and fight for them.
I didn't say any of that out loud, but I didn't need to.
"You chose to stay on and I'm grateful. That's all I had to say." And he went back in the house.
I was a little bemused by this conversation until I came in to cook supper and found The Dotted Line open on my desktop and Gary's coffee cup on my desk.
No dear, I thought. Thank you for staying on.