This Leap Day, I want to change my name.
I choose “Running Late.”
It’s an apt moniker for a middle-aged demi-goddess who can’t quite get anywhere on time. Besides, as a lover of everything Native American, the name might gain me entrée into a hip tribe.
I once blamed my time-arrival deficit on a decade’s worth of mutating hormones. Too much of one and not enough of another, said the menopausal wizards.
But this morning I awoke to a new realization: I’ve been running late since before I was born.
I could’ve been a Leap Year Baby except for the year and three days in between. This simple fact explains everything that’s afoul in my life.
Like how I missed membership in the Honor Society of Leap Year Babies by 368 days. Yes, there’s a global club for them, all five million members. I’m jealous. Really.
Knowing my late-for-Leap-Year status explains a lot. Like why I run late most every day. And why I’m running late with my first novel.
For too many recent days, a prancing court jester has heckled my authorial efforts.
“Four years into this book and this is all you have?” he jabs in my head, again. “No more than this? Why aren’t you finished? You’ll never get published at this rate. ‘First novel ever’ is not a good excuse.”
After this morning’s wisdom, I tune him out now. It no longer matters how long this novel takes me to finish because now I know: of course, I will run late. I was born this way.
Either way, writing a novel, especially your first, takes forever. Make that FOREVER.
Life—be it relationship issues, health concerns, income needs, and so on—intrudes, even with the most clear, firm boundaries in place.
The mere act of placing words on a page—tens of thousands of them—takes time. First draft involves aligning words together to shape phrases, creating sentences that become paragraphs morphing into chapters that comprise your version of the Great American Novel.
I’m still in the drafting phase after almost fifty-one months. The words keep changing along with the paragraphs and chapters. Revision remains a word in a craft book. And agents and publishing are for post-midnight dreams.
So it goes in the nature of this art form as I live, running late, an Almost-Leap Year-Baby.
Amazing to consider, too: if I’d been born a year and three days earlier, I’d be 14 today.
And the novel would still be in first draft stage.