It’s the end of the year. Christmas Eve, to be exact.
I’m thinking a lot about where I was this exact time last year. I was a mother of two, just finishing my first semester as a college professor. I had just signed my second book deal, this time with Penguin. We were living at our first actual house as a family – a small little condo with a red door that overlooked a gully full of trees. I had just got my first huge tattoo, which moved me from the kind of girl who has a couple little delicate tats to a girl with full-on bicep ink. I lost both my grandmothers within three months of each other.
I’m thinking a lot about what changed in this year, but story was a constant. It was the God-given balm on my soul that got me through a lot of the curve balls this year chucked at my head.
I got pregnant with River Grace, and our little red door condo was too small. I fell in love with the Gallagher family as I binge-watched Shameless. I taught myself how to apply for a home loan and open escrow because if Fiona could fight for a better life, I could, too.
We moved two doors down from my parents, which meant an overlap of a couple months where we lived with each other. I finished drafting while vomiting. I thought I miscarried and sat in a hospital room, a crinkly paper gown hanging off my shoulder while they brought in buckets and scalpels and wouldn’t tell me what was happening. Then, I felt relief I didn’t know I could experience when they did an ultrasound and I saw her little heart beating. I still couldn’t shake the feel of the thin gown and the whisper of the blood as it dripped down my legs, so I lost myself in Signs – the movie that marked me as a child and told me to hold on. That no matter what, there was a God who would see me through.
I watched The Exorcist TV show to distract me during the move. I don’t really know what that says about my mood.
My parents moved to their new house, and the morning sickness ebbed. We made a home, and the first night I sat in my finished living room, we watched Spider-Man: Homecoming. My parents house became mine to the sound of Tony telling Peter: if you’re nothing without the suit than you shouldn’t have it.
A voice in the back of my head that told me something was wrong with my inner circle got louder.
I ended a professional relationship. It was really hard. He talked me out of it once before the women in my writing circle reminded me that I’m not a fainting violet and that I need to follow my gut. I watched Game of Thrones – the scene where Olenna talks to Daenarys. I thought about that while drafting one of the hardest emails of my professional career.
I met my book-to-film agent, Mary Pender. We ate speghetti in Beverly Hills and talked big dreams. I had coffee with Lee Jessup and she took me on as a client. I let Avengers: Infinity War break my heart into a million pieces as I held the hands of one of my best friends in the dark theater.
Through the summer, we watched True Blood and I fell irrevocably in love with Eric Northman and all of Bon Temps.
Aryn started kindergarten, after I fought tooth and nail to get her into a good school they said was full. I got Liam into a new daycare so they could be at the same place. It was expensive. I finished another rough draft of the joint project I’m working on. I did copyedits on The Beckoning Shadow and edits on The Breath of Bones. I read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and The Men We Reaped by Jesamyn Ward. I dove head-first into Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I let myself get swept away by Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Kat Howard’s An Unkindness of Magicians. I got thoroughly spooked by Mindy McGinnis’s This Darkness Mine.
I started working on a pilot as I licked the wounds from the professional breakup. I wasn’t sure I trusted my story sense. I signed up for a class at Script Anatomy, and a working TV writer told me I have something worth fighting for. So I did. I am. We watched The Americans, and Oleg deserved better. Don’t @ me.
I went into labor, and they made me sign a paper saying that I understood going for a natural birth after a C-section could kill me. I countered that any kind of birth could kill me.
Touché, they said.
The epidural was only partially effective, but I pulled my daughter out with my own two hands, and it was worth it.
River Grace was born, and the postpartum anxiety kicked in. Hard. I bit back adrenaline as it rattled my jaw. I started grinding my teeth. I weaned her, because breastfeeding is a mindfuck and a half and anyone who wants to give me shit for that can eat a bowl of butts.
Sleepless nights with a fussy baby, then. But The Haunting of Hill House came at me sideways, knocking me down in a way I was incredibly thankful for. It rattled me. It rattles me still and now I have to close my office door at night because the BENT NECK LADY fear is REAL.
Then, Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass Series, where I met Manon Blackbeak while sipping bourbon and listening to the rain pelt the windows. She left a mark on me I never want to fade. On the cliff edge with Abraxos, with all eyes on her, turning to her troops: We are the Thirteen from now until the darkness claims us. Let’s remind them why.
I thought of that as anxiety ripped up my throat over and over, and I think of it now as I peer around the corner at 2019.
My book comes out. I will have another nephew in April. My youngest sister is getting married. And I’m excited to see what stories will catch me by surprise. The class of #Novel19s is not going to disappoint. (Seriously, all. Go look at that hashtag. It’s gonna be a good book year.) I have things in the works with my books at both Harper and Penguin, and things I’m going to shoot for in the TV space. I’ve got Writers House and UTA at my back, and they’re telling me to go for my wildest dreams.
So don’t blink, 2019. Because I’m making more moves.