My seven-year-old grandson, Beckett, knows the name of my book. I don’t remember ever talking about it with him. Maybe he heard a relative asking about my writing pursuits during the holidays. Wherever he heard it, listening to him say it made me feel more accountable than anything else has in months.
We were going through photos on my iPad to distract his five-year-old sister Emerson—who was having what seemed like the worst day of her life—because she found out that Beckett got a milkshake at lunch while she was at preschool. Never mind that we all got frozen yogurt after we picked her up. He had gotten something she hadn’t, and that was just plain wrong.
The photos had a magical effect. The sobs were stifled. She was mesmerized by seeing herself in so many pictures. Backward through time. Watching them shrink. The majority of photos I take are of my grandchildren. Followed by, in order of volume, pictures of Scotland in the summer and photos from other trips. No pictures of food, no selfies.
Once in a while, I grab a photo of something because I’d like to have a copy of it. Sometime in the last few years, someone brought a hand-out to my writing group that they had received at a workshop at San Diego Writers, Ink. It was about query letters. I had taken a picture of it so I could study it later.
Beckett is an advanced reader for his age. I know he was read to from the time he was a baby, but I think the ubiquitous billboards in Los Angeles helped. The world’s largest flash cards.
He saw the headline and asked, “What’s a query letter?”
“It’s a letter you send to someone when you want them to publish your book.”
“Has your book been published? Hair on Fire?”
I felt my face getting red, hearing him say the title of my book.
“No, I haven’t finished it.”
“I don’t really know why not.”
“Well, you should.” This was ambiguous to me. Should I know why? Or should I finish? You always hear people say you should do things for yourself, not for others. But I want to be who this precious and precocious little boy thinks I am.
The moment passed, and we kept going on our reverse journey. I have almost 2,000 pictures. There would be more, but I winnow from time to time to avoid having to pay for iCloud storage.
We finally reached the end. The first photo I ever took with my phone was Beckett at about three months, sleeping in a carrier.
“Where am I?” asked Emerson, still sensitive to being left out.
“You weren’t here then.”
“Because your part of the story hadn’t started yet.”
They both wandered off after I refused to let them watch YouTube videos on the iPad. I sat there staring at the screen, wondering… when am I going to start to finish my story?
Andrea Moser spent 35 years writing for other people and organizations, from elected officials and civic leaders to universities and non-profits. These days, she is animating the characters who inhabit her first novel, Hair on Fire. She is an avid theater-goer, in San Diego and in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she has been attending the annual Fringe Festival for 20 years.
Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/3287788