I’ll admit it, the realization that came to me on the walk this morning:

I’m afraid to finish this book.

It’s not because I don’t have another idea waiting in the wings—I have two, and one of them is the sequel to my beloved Spiritkeeper, a writing task that will fill me with love and joy for as long as it lasts. It isn’t the fear of the slog that is the agent-query letter…well, maybe a bit. It is something else. And I’m not completely sure what.

As I seek to settle in this new life in the house on the river, as I search for my routines, as I keep up that discouraging trudge that is the hunt for a job, I know that I am, unpacking boxes again. And not just the literal ones that clutter my garage.

I am unpacking the boxes of my head, my emotions; the why of me. Finding places for things to fit. Making neat; uncluttering myself, putting Lynn in order. Looking for my perfect place in the world. In a personality that has an unfortunate tendency to ignore things that worry me, the out-of-control fear is a tough thing to face. And it’s a far different thing than writing is.

I am devoted to the exalted demands of the work. Rare is the day that I don’t sit with the page. There is comfort in purpose. There is refuge.

In writing, I know what must be done. As I contemplate the finish, so massive in its cosmic importance, I’ve been waiting to pick the fruit until it is fully ripe, fully sweet. That’s not an excuse. It’s an Is.

And the finish won’t be the finish, really. There are holes to be filled, mechanics to straighten out, points to pump up. The final polish (which Spiritkeeper didn’t require, oddly enough) will take another month, even after I write “The End.” That is not avoidance: It’s good sense. It is duty to craft and character. But.

As I do the thinking, the steeping, the wearing of the wonder of the book’s end, I don’t want to become like the perennial grad student, hiding behind the regularity of class work in the attempt to keep the world at a distance. Life is just too short for that. And fear is a very sneaky thing.