Most people write about love on Valentine’s day, and in a way that’s what I’m doing, but this is also about loss. Not of a person. I’m happily married to a sexy geek who loves God, and there is no better combination of traits, I say!
But you don’t need a human being to have your heart broken. Sometimes, you just need a fruitless effort.
On Valentine’s Day, 2012, exactly four years ago, I published a book: Rise, a fantasy novel about a young man named Matt who is taken away to the fantasy world of Larlain, where swords mix with guns, fire can speak, and one dark man decided destroying the world was preferable to his own death. At first, Matt tries to escape the danger on all sides, starvation and thirst, and the blood on his own hands. But he comes to see how he was made more for this world than his own. And maybe, just maybe, he can save it.
I published under shaky circumstances despite all the red flags. Someone dangled the proverbial carrot of publication and I bit off more than I could chew. Mixing metaphors, perhaps, but bear with me.
Not only did I end up with a net loss of $600, but the book faded away into obscurity like so many others. So much for dreams.
Taking What You Can Get
When your heart breaks, you learn things. I learned authors need to be marketing experts in the digital age–or have the dough to hire one. I learned how hard it is to get people to care about your art. I learned I want to help other aspiring artists.
I also learned that I will never again sell a book to someone who I know will not read it. If you want to support my dream, write a check. Books are meant to be read. How would you feel it someone adopted you, then kept you in a corner?
I tried to take these lessons and apply them forward, thinking they were all I’d get from this experience. I turned my attention to other projects and even found some moderate success.
But every now and then, I looked over my shoulder, at the single author copy sitting on my bookshelf. I tell myself it’s just the nostalgia of writing my first book and try to keep down the butterflies, but I know it’s more than that.
Despite all failure and frustration, I cannot bring myself to hate that book. In fact, I’ll occasionally flip through it. I even have the audacity to smile fondly. We had some good times together, didn’t we, baby?
And…well…see, I’ve kinda been thinking…maybe we could…try again? I know it’s nuts. We were a disaster. But four years have passed. I’m different. She’s different. You could hardly recognize either one of us. And every time I look at her, my heart starts pounding like it did that first night.
I saw her through the campfire in 2005. It was just the two of us, flirting through the ashes and yellow-orange tongues. I’d never felt this way before. A few casual encounters, but nothing that made my palms sweat and my face flush. I asked my best friend about her and he said give it a shot.
It’s like that again, but tempered by maturity. We’re not diving in. We’ve been talking for a while now, finding a place for each other in our dreams. She makes me want to dream.
On the Wings of Love
Time to confess: I’ve been writing Rise again, recreating the story in a fresh, new way. Making the focus more about Matt and the trials that make a man out of him, more about experiencing the wonder of a new world. It’s the story I’ve always wanted to tell, but now I’ve lived enough to tell it authentically.
And I want to share it again.
I squeeze her hand and she squeezes back, giving and receiving comfort at the same time. I look into her eyes. She’s scared. I’m scared. The heat between us is too great, too out of control. Our hearts aren’t safe anymore. We’re flying higher and higher on our own love, dancing on the clouds and skimming the stars. It’s dangerous and beautiful.
We could fall. We could crash and burn from an even greater height. Our love may not survive another tumble.
But how can you say you’re alive if your heart isn’t beating?