"Are you writing?"
She asks me this with a squint, leaning toward her computer screen as if she's about to reach through and grab my hand. This is what she looks like when she means business. I imagine her students are frightened of this stare.
I look away.
"Depends on what you mean..."
Her reply is quick, her eyebrows raised.
"....then no." I can feel the tears coming and I have no idea why her question makes me so emotional. I blink them away.
She falls against her chair and crosses her arms against her chest. "You have to start writing again, Elora."
And I nod, knowing she's right but not knowing how to begin.
The next day, I'm sitting with my husband during happy hour.
"Tell me more about this dream," he says.
I begin cautiously, not sure if I can untangle the webbing around details and scenes.
"Well have you started writing it down yet?"
I stare at him.
"Sounds like you need to start and see what happens."
"Just start, love. Remember your craft."
And there's nothing more I can say.
We're sitting in my living room and catching up on life. I ask her how writing is going, and she tells me a story of moving slow, finding creativity, fighting pushback.
"What about you? Are you writing? Or are you just helping other people and not yourself?"
I study the hem of my shirt and feel the pressure build in my veins. I laugh to keep from crying..
"Um, no. I'm not writing. At least not writing outside of content for Story Sessions." I glance at her and she's shaking her head.
"That's not what you're supposed to be doing, Elora."
She says it with authority, and I can feel the weight crash against my chest. She doesn't know this, but her words have unlocked something within me. Conviction, perhaps? Maybe inspiration.
Or simply a kick in the ass.
Whatever it is, when others join us and begin talking about multiple books and publishing deals, I make a quick exit in order to breathe and call a friend. When she answers, I jump into the conversation.
"Hi. I hope you can talk. I need you to talk me down."
She listens, and then responds. I can tell she's thinking because she's pausing between words—making sure she gets them right. And then something snaps and her words come out in a rush.
"You know, Every Shattered Thing hasn't blown up—yet—but it can still happen. What would it do for you to go from thinking it hasn't happened to it will happen? It's like Danielle LaPorte, you know? When people tell her her dreams are possible, she always says possible? My dreams aren't possible. They're a done fucking deal—what would happen if you believed that line of thinking instead of freaking out about what you haven't done? What would happen if you believed you'll write other books instead of freaking out because you haven't started book two?"
My end of the line went quiet.
"I'd probably be writing right now instead of crying with you over the phone."
Earlier this month, I wrote about the itching of wings and how when I was younger, I took to cheerleading and became the base. The spotter. Because if I couldn't fly, I wanted to help everyone else get there.
I'm doing it again.
I've taken the role of cheerleader—standing at the base of the mountain, hollering at those above that they can do it—just jump, I'll be here, your words matter, your story deserves breath, I can catch you.
Even though I know they won't fall. They are fully capable of flying on their own.
I'm talking with one of the people who knows me best on the phone. Her words come fast and hot like they do when she's trying to chase after them.
"What's in your core, Elora? What do you need to do in your core? Go there. Do that. Worry about nothing else."
I sit in the chair out back, staring at the trees blooming with spring flowers. I think about Stephanie and the ending I know she has—and the limbo I've placed her in yet again as I wait for some magical fairy to give me permission to begin.
"I don't know why I doubt. I don't know why I chalk it up to a season of no writing because I know what I'm built to do—I'm built for words. I think...I think I'm just scared. Unsure, even. Maybe even frustrated? I don't know."
"But you know what's in your core." Her voice has gone soft now, and I can hear the belief behind her words. "You know what you're meant to do. So do it."
I smile and feel the weight of untold stories dig into my shoulders. I close my eyes and everything begins to fit together.
"I know." I whisper. "I will."