Safe is Relative
School begins tomorrow. That's when I'll start writing full time again. I took the majority of the summer "off" so I could spend it with my Bear Man and I have no regrets.
All my focus will be on the second installment of In Between the Earth and Sky. The book that nearly killed me.
The night I finally hit publish, I immediately had Cap drive me to urgent care because I'd had a fever for 10 days and every molecule in my body hurt.
DOCTOR: You've had a fever for 10 days? Why are you just now coming in?
ME: Because I had to finish writing a book.
ME: It's my job. To write books. I didn't write a fever induced story if that's what you're thinking.
ME: But I finished it.
DOCTOR: You know with your compromised immune system that it's dangerous to let an infection go untreated. You really can't afford the extra stress—
ME: *loud sigh* Yeah, I know.
ME: ... *falls off exam table*
DOCTOR: Do you have someone to drive you to the pharmacy?
Maybe you can see why I need to think about it before just jumping into part 2.
I'm both nervous and excited to get this next story underway. Every book is an adventure, but this one holds a little more trepidation for me than the others. And not just because of the fever towards the end.
See, I had never planned on a part 2.
In Between the Earth and Sky was meant to be a one off.
It took me three years of emotional turmoil and torture to get it exactly right. And when it was finished... the satisfaction I felt was overwhelming.
And I was very solid in my decision to end it where it was despite the numerous inquiries about "what comes next for Rem and Lydia?".
But a writer's brain is a wild place. I wish I could tell you what happens in there but I'm still discovering it myself. I once described it as hacking through jungle overgrowth with a machete looking for lost ruins and ancient treasures. It created a visual that has stayed with me.
When I stand at the edge of a story I can sense the path but not see it. Sometimes I go in ill-prepared and have to double-back to the beginning and start over. That happened a lot with In Between. I probably have more than 10 shitty starts to that story. None of them are even close to what I ended up with.
As frustrating of a process as that was, it was still an exploration I don't regret. It wasn't until Lydia fell out of the shower while singing "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" that I knew I had found her. And the first time Remington called her a goblin, I knew I'd found him as well.
I know the process for that book was dissimilar to my others for a variety of reasons, i.e. brain tumor, writing a book based on someone I actually know, stressful life events, etc.
One thing I didn't do was prepare properly.
But how could I have?
How was I to know that chasing Remington and Lydia into a jungle of words and feelings would be such a difficult undertaking? After all, a story is a story, and I write them all the time.
But it wasn't like the others—as most of you noticed. It'll always be just a little peculiar, just a little more, just a little painful to think about.
It's not better than the others and it's not worse. It's just different.
It's a lot like trying to get a hold of a wild animal. It involves a lot of patience, and respect, and there's always the unspoken understanding that it can turn on me at any moment.
"You can't claim a wild thing."
I wrote the words. I tattooed them on my skin. And yet I'm still learning exactly what that means in the context of these characters and this story.
Maybe it's because I'm still learning what that means in the context of the heart and in people.
Maybe all of this has been an exploration into why we love the way we do and why we need someone who meets us in our freedom.
Maybe meeting Zack was always supposed to teach me more about myself than anything. And here I thought I would be teaching everyone else about him. But that hasn't always been the case.
Maybe I shouldn't write book 2. Maybe I'm not yet ready to find out things about myself that I didn't before. Maybe it's safer to stay away from a wild thing and not try to touch it—not even once.
But then Lydia's words come back to me.
"Safe is relative."
And I know I have to find out anyway. I have to follow this new adventure into the jungle once more.
And you're coming with me.