King Julian Gets Some Almonds

My three year old niece Lucy is such a storyteller.  She will invent these wild tales of zombies and princesses and dogs and fashion girls, winding them on for hours and hours.  At Thanksgiving, Ian started illustrating them for her, so now whenever she comes over, we make a little book and she tells a story and he draws it for her.  The illustrations prove similarly hilarious to her parents, and the books are becoming little family heirlooms.

She comes from a long line of readers and storytellers.  Her mom, my sister Hilary, is a fantastic writer who went to the Breadloaf Young Writer’s Conference in high school, and both our parents are great tellers of tales (my dad, Dana Cudmore, wrote The Remarkable Howe Caverns Story).  We grew up surrounded by books, making up bizarre games and stories, the most long-running of which involved a stuffed fruit collection, a panda named Willowasis and a penguin named Polka Dot.  Another classic in the genre is a picture book my sister Laura put together from magazine cut-outs and coloring book pages, which, when my dad read it aloud to her, dubbed it Jasmine’s Bad Apple Day.  It’s one of those weird pieces of family lore that has stuck with us ever since.

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There’s very little that feels as good as finishing a story.  It’s just the absolute best in the whole world, this rush of euphoria and giddiness and dizziness and the sheer accomplishment of the whole thing.  Champagne and potato chips.  Fireworks.  Cake.Picture 6

But that next day, oh fuck, that next day.  Not quite a hangover, just an emptiness. What next?  You wander the halls.  You pay some bills.  And late in the afternoon, that panic sets in.  What if I can never write again?

Yeah, that’s where I am.  And it kinda sucks.

At about 1:14 in the afternoon on Wednesday, I finished edits on my debut novel, No Awkward Goodbyes.  My editor, Chelsey, is a saint of words, guiding me through what was, at times, an overwhelming and daunting process.  She also bought me a grilled cheese with short ribs, which makes her my favorite person ever.  It was a task filled with a lot of pacing and a lot of fretting and a lot of coffee, but I did it, and I learned that doing the dishes helps me work out scenes that I’m struggling with, which I’m sure is something Ian appreciates, even if I do it while I talk to myself.

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