I sat down heavily at the table, slouching over it and putting my head on my crossed arms with a groan. “I need a drink,” I complained, and T laughed as she got a mug out of the cupboard.
“What do you want?” she asked, cracking open the fridge.
“Eggnog, please and thank you,” I answered. She poured out my drink and passed it to me over the table before sitting down herself.
“My dad wouldn’t let me spike it,” she said with mock disappointment.
K snorted. “That’s not a bad thing. You’re the only one who would drink it anyways and then the rest of the night would be some big giggle-fest.”
She rolled her eyes as I snickered, and then she turned to me expectantly. “Well? How was your Christmas?”
I smiled wearily. “It was good. Busy, but good. Lots of family stuff, as per usual, and I got to see a few friends too.”
“And?” T prompted.
I sighed and shook my head. “I didn’t finish it.”
K looked at me thoughtfully and then just shrugged. “You can’t win ‘em all,” he said ruefully, and I nodded.
“Yeah, don’t I know it.” I smiled. “It’s funny, actually—if I’d had a ‘normal’ Christmas, where I basically bum around for two weeks at home, I might’ve actually finished. But I actually did stuff this year! I went to a Christmas party, visited my old high school, went shopping about three hundred times, and worked an extra shift at the clinic. I’ve been busy, would you believe it?”
“Whaaaat? You went to a Christmas party? Voluntarily?!” K cried out in false horror. “That’s unheard of!”
I just laughed. “I know, eh? Pretty wild for me.”
“So you just didn’t have the time then?” T asked, a little more sympathetic than K was.
I spread my hands apart. “Yeah. Mostly. I was so focussed on all my obligations, I think I wore myself out. And I think there was a part of me that just didn’t want to write. Like… I desperately wanted to finish, and I was willing to work my butt off to do it, but I feel like if I’d pushed myself too hard around Christmastime especially, I would’ve ended up focussing more on the progress and less on the story. Or maybe I’m just telling myself that so I won’t feel so bad, I don’t know.” I looked down into my eggnog. “It’s a shame though, ‘cause I started out so strong. I got almost five chapters done before I lost steam.”
“That’s not bad,” K said positively, raising his glass in a small salute. “At least you got something done, right?”
I exhaled. “Right. And I’m hoping it will be better now that I don’t have Christmas to worry about.”
“Are you gonna try for New Year’s Eve then?” T asked. “I remember you saying that was your backup plan.”
I nodded. “I think I will. I don’t have a ton of time, and I have a lot of progress to go but… I want to try.” I grinned. “It’s not the holidays if I’m not staying up ridiculously late to work on some crazy project.”
K shook his head. “You just don’t know when you’re beat, do you?” he teased. “I take it we may be meeting again sometime soon to rescue you with more drinks?”
I laughed. “Probably. I’ll need all the moral support I can get.” I took a sip of my eggnog. “I’ll get it done eventually, anyways. Hopefully this year but we’ll see how that goes. But—it’s been forever! How are you two? How was your Christmas, T?”
She smiled. “It was nice. Just my close family got together this year, but we went skating at the arena and that was fun. Then I went to N’s house when she had all her family over, which was a lot of fun because some of her family’s from Italy and some are from Poland, so there were a lot of cool stories. A couple of her aunts took a liking to me so apparently I’m invited back next year and they’re going to get me to try some drinks. Cocktails and stuff.” She giggled, shooting a sly look at K.
I laughed. “Look at you, making drinking buddies. You’re so bad.” She grinned, quite pleased with herself, and started chewing on a thumbnail. “And you, K?” I asked. How are you enjoying your trip abroad?”
He sighed, making a dubious face. “Oh, well, it’s always an adventure, staying at this monster’s house.” He gestured to T and she stuck out her tongue. “But it’s nice being her guest, because it means she has to serve me. Ha, but I am enjoying it. I get to rest, for once. I don’t know how I got stuck training fifty novice soldiers, but I can’t get a break these days. It’s driving me insane.”
My eyes widened with amused disbelief. “You? Training a bunch of newbies?” I couldn’t help but laugh. “Have you made anybody cry yet?”
He shook his head. “Just about. I swear I’m going to snap on someone pretty soon, though. They’re like a bunch of children.”
I grinned ear-to-ear, endlessly entertained by his predicament and happy to listen to his stories, grumbling though they were. He and T and I talked for a long while, K telling me how things were back home, T telling me all about her second year of college thus far, and me telling them about my own university experience.
It kind of sucked, knowing that I hadn’t managed to finish my second draft by Christmas Eve like I’d wanted, but I was happy to have this moment, right here, to talk to my old friends and get caught up with each other’s lives.
I would finish their story, sooner or later, and I knew that they understood why it was taking me so long. They understood that it was almost as hard for me to write this book as it had been for them to endure their adventure. And they were always there, a mere thought away, to comfort me with eggnog and simple conversations when I was feeling discouraged.
Sometimes, I guess, believing in yourself and wanting something with all your heart just isn’t enough to get you there. Sometimes our dreams and wishes don’t play out the way we want them to. To call it a failure isn’t fair—it’s a setback. You just can’t stop wanting it. And you have to be willing to keep fighting, to keep working for it.
I hope to finish my second draft by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, but it doesn’t matter, not really, because I’m not giving up on it. I had a tough time making progress but at least I’m still here, still trying, still writing. I’ll get there, I know I will, even if it isn’t “on time”.
Don’t give up. Keep on fighting, and be brave enough to accept when you’ve had a setback.
You can do it.