I left work a little early today to go for a special walk with the family.
Now, don't growl at me for it. I had to leave work a little early, because if I leave work on time there's this sensor that goes off as I pull out of the parking garage and alerts all of Memphis: "he's on his way." At that point the entire driving population of Memphis and surrounding areas, including up toward Nashville and into Arkansas, rush to the East side to clog up the one four-lane road I need to be on.
Okay, maybe that's just my overactive making-crap-up (aka "author") muscle creating that reality. But the fact really is that if I leave work by 4:45 then I'm home by 5:00. If I leave at, say, 6:30, I'm home by 6:45. If I leave at 5:00, though? Not gonna see me for a few weeks, hon.
The walk was cool. I mean, literally--it's cooled off a lot since I did the same trail last summer, back when the Tennessee outdoor thermometer was set just above "melt most rubber shoe soles" and just below "make Satan sweat." I chose to rent a house right across from one of, if not the, largest urban park in the nation on purpose--I want to get back into walking and maybe even jogging and bicycling. I used to be into it; heck, I ran a marathon about *mumble*dy-five years ago. The Huntington Beach Triathlon was conquered soon after that. The only race I've ever left unfinished was around then, too: the Kaaterskills Spring Rush, iron man style. It, near as I can tell, doesn't exist any more, so it'll stay unfinished forever, I guess.
But it's been a lot of years, and right about a hundred extra pounds, so it might take me a while to build up there. Let's do some walking first.
For this trip, I reminded the fam why they shouldn't trust me. We've been doing a few walks a week, mostly in the mile and a half range. But there's this path that I took once this summer that's really awesome. It's just a little bit longer (*snicker*) than the ones we've been taking, but it goes past a few scenic lakes as well as a lineup of identified trees. It's a few miles long, but hey--it's just a little bit longer, right?
"Only a little farther" quickly became my main line.
I don't think they'll believe me any more.
We got to the first lake. "It's only a little farther" led us around it and to another lake, which we also walked around. "It's only a little farther" then got us to the Visitor's Center, by way of a beautiful little spot where we stopped for a minute to watch a fawn eat with its mother. "Only a little farther" then motivated us through the gloomy evening light to the lily pond, which is close to the epic children's play area. Which was, I must point out, closed by then.
See, they close the park at sunset. We knew that already from the little green signs, but once the sun sets you no longer need the little signs, as there are ranger trucks driving around blaring at you.
"It's only a little f--" "The park is now closed. Please make your way to your vehicles."
"Only a little farther." "The park closes at sunset, which occurred today at six forty-nine pee em."
"It's only a little--" "Oh, shut up."
We made it out as true darkness descended, and then I treated the weary family to a nice meal of burgers (sans buns for the celiacs). McDonald's, it turns out, is only a little farther than the park.
Writing is like that.
(you knew I was gonna bring it around to my favorite topic eventually, right?)
No, really. It is like that, at least for me. I get into a story and think that I'm nearly done, and then as I close it up I realize there's more I want to add. Then I add it, thinking it's only a little farther, and I read what I've got and still have more to add and change.
I walked into the Memphis Meetup group on Saturday just as proud as I could be, toting a 404-page manuscript of the Dragon Queen book. It's only a little farther, after all.... Then on Sunday I started reading it aloud, and boy, do I still have some work to do.
At least that park doesn't close.