When the sun goes down, the desert is instantly freezing. The wind pushes against our faces. I wrap my head in a scarf and we watch the sunset while pressed against the side of a cliff.
There are only so many days left in the year. Those numbers changing over always feel like such a stopping point: a manmade pause. You go to sleep one night, wake up and have to learn how to write the date again. And for the first week or two you slip up and everyone laughs and maybe it’s an uncomfortable laugh. No, you’re behind. We’ve moved on now. We have to write something different. We’ve changed all the calendars and thrown the old pages away. Keep up. Get it together. Keep up.
Two weeks now into the new year and I work fifteen, sixteen hours a day, writing late into the night and too early in the morning, squinting over a cup of coffee at a computer screen that seems alarmingly bright. I ignore phone calls from my family and my friends and focus only on the number of words I have to write before I’ll allow myself to go to sleep, to take a break, to eat some lunch.
Everything about the second book is different from the first book. I am in a different place in every way—a different state, a different headspace, a different age, a different hairstyle, different people surrounding me and different worries crowding my desk. Everything seems harder and somedays my fingers are so sluggish I find myself wondering whether this is what I’m supposed to be doing at all.
But then I step away from it and I realize again, a hundred times, a dozen times a day, that it was never really a choice. You do what you have to do to make it work. You give up all your free time and withdraw from everyone you love and you write until you have something worth showing someone else. And then you show someone else and you cross your fingers and all you can hope is… shit.
I hope they can tell what I gave up to get here.
I hope they can see all the sleep I lost, all the meals I missed, all the hours I offered.
I hope they love this as much as I do.