I've had a really wonderful birthday. Thanks Bob, thanks Andy, thanks all of you lovely friends and co-workers!
I hope it doesn't sound too self-indulgent or selfish to say that I gave myself a birthday present, too.
I finished a story that has taken me two years to write. It started well, staggered and lurched forward, made me crazy, made me happy, stretched me, forced me to edit myself, and ended a little better. It was hard, it was easy, it was boring, it was exciting, it was far more than I'd ever expected it to be.
I fell in love with the characters. They became real to me, and once that happened, they told me the story. I learned to wait for it. And of course, once it arrived, I messed with it, cut it, added to it, sat and looked at it, screamed at it, and screamed with joy - yes, right out loud - when the right words happened, when I realized what the characters were trying to do, when I actually smartened the hell up and listened to them.
I've mentioned it before, but it bears saying again; writing the story turned me into a fiction writer again. Happy birthday to me.