Now that we have a child, packing for any kind of overnight trip requires checklists upon checklists: what it will take to keep her happy in the car, to help her sleep in a new place, to increase the odds that she'll eat, a separate bag of games and toys to keep her busy in the car, dvds, snacks, clothing for various climates, diapers, wipes, Kiku the monkey, pacifiers, little spoons for little hands, a bag of basic medical stuff ... you get the picture. And then we have to pack for us. It's quite a production.
The hardest part of leaving for a trip with a toddler is that moment when my hand is suspended next to the ignition, ready to start the car. Are we really ready? To we have everything we need? Is the phone charged? The tank full? Did you check her diaper? Are all of the pieces in place? Can we safely commit to leaving our home and venturing to wherever it is we're going? Because there comes a point in the drive when you can't turn back - and there are some things that can't be bought along the way in the event they're left behind.
This was my life two days ago as we prepared ourselves for the +300 mile trip to my inlaws' house, where we're spending the holidays. I literally taped the last to-do list on the back door so I wouldn't leave anything behind in the blurry-eyed state of our 0-dark-30 departure. I had that moment, toddler crying in the car-seat, husband popping the top of a rockstar energy drink and loading a Dora DVD into the laptop, where my hand would not budge towards the ignition. I'm leaving something. All the pieces are not in place. They can't be in place. We're forgetting something. I just know it. And then it hit me: I'm doing the same thing with my sequel.
Tanzy and her sidekicks have been inching towards the climax of the sequel for weeks. It's a big moment for all of them, and nothing will be the same once the dust settles. It's a scary moment for me as a writer, echoing the same kinds of questions in my head: are we ready? Am I forgetting something? Are all of the pieces in place. Are we SURE we're ready for this? Because there comes a point when you can't turn back... and there are some things that can't hop on the train once it's in motion.
Yes, it's a draft, of course it can be changed. Likely, it WILL change 100 times between now and the final draft. But this first draft blazes the trail. Even if I rewrite the whole story from the ground up, this first pass will color any new versions that come after it. Its smoke will linger in the proverbial air. Drafting the climax will force me to commit to how I see this whole thing shaking out. And it's making me seek and destroy any loopholes and inconsistencies in the plot preceding this epic moment.
But the time has come. The lists are checked off. The car is packed. The tank is full. Take a deep breath. Turn the key. Here we go...
p.s. Part of our traditions include setting goals for 2013, so be on the look out for that post in early January, and start thinking about your own. No matter how old I get, the new year always reminds me of a blank sheet of paper. So very, very inspirational. Have a fantastic holiday season!