I am experiencing anxiety over our annual road trip. The second leg of the trip comprises ten days with my oldest friend and our (five!) children. My husband will be home in Illinois, and I fear that solo parenting as a houseguest won’t leave much time for writing.
I write every day. Every day. In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King admits that he has lied to fans for years: He doesn't take off on Christmas, birthdays or Fourth of July. He writes every day. I'm like that.
Writing, for me, is as important as water or food or air: I need it. If I try to skip a day (for vacation or a child's birthday or, yes, Christmas,) I get a little twitchy. If the stars have not aligned, or if I spend the baby’s nap on Reddit instead of writing, I freak out.
Hours past my bedtime, I will sit on the sofa penning at least 1000 new words before I can go to bed. [I'm not a slacker; a thousand words is my bare minimum. 2500 while editing. 9000 on final edits.]
That won’t work out for me on vacation, because once our children are in bed, my friend will be right there with wine. And 11 months of stories to share. By the time we’re done talking, I’ll need to hit the sack. When my children wake up at 5 a.m., as they surely will, it’s on me.
So, yes, a little panicked over here.
A dear friend of mine called this the quintessential picture of me: holding onto a baby*, studying the world and reluctant to be photographed.
Yes, I study the world and its people. I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy, but I don’t write in either genre. Nuanced human relationships are sufficiently intriguing to keep me writing for the rest of my life. Every character has a story; it’s my job to find it. And what a great job it is!
During the last fifteen months, I have worked on one primary project and two secondaries. Now that my first manuscript is complete, I am equally passionate about the other two.
A contemporary novel about a mother’s grief, or an edgy YA novel about assuming a new identity? I just can’t decide. I’m sure to finish both, and piece together the hundreds of ideas in the queue, but it feels a bit like Sophie’s choice.
No, it’s not that dramatic. It’s more like that personality trait Jack Kerouac craved: desirous of everything at the same time. I am that person, where writing is concerned.
Right now, I want to work on everything at once. And I hope this inspiration makes for a very productive summer.
*Note the velcro baby in my picture in the sidebar. Yes, she’s always there.
I’m evaluating my *other* writing projects right now, and realizing I write about mothers constantly. Probably because I’m so deep into the nurturing phase that is early childhood, I am studying the mother-child relationship from all angles.
Recently, I realized something stunning and beautiful. (Before I share it, you should know that I have a brilliant and funny husband, and our marriage is one of the good ones. This will help you calibrate the intimacy in my life.)
Here it is: The relationship between mothers and young children, particularly nurslings, is the most intimate of all human relationships.
I know everything that goes into their little bodies, and I see everything that comes out. I know how much sleep they get, and whether the sleep was good. They have preferences and favorites and foods they absolutely will not eat, and I have to know it all. If my husband expected these things of me, I would go berserk.
For these short years, as my helpless newborns grow into schoolgirls, I am still a part of them. We are sharing our lives in a very intimate way. There is love, yes, but there is feeding and cleaning and teaching and explaining and helping them understand that life is not fair. My heart broke yesterday when 2008 asked me why some people hit. There is heartbreak and there is joy.
There are also French kisses, because my baby thinks licking other people’s teeth is hilarious.
Beneath it all, there there also is a slow process of moving further and further from each other. 2008 has started having preschool experiences that I do not share. 2010 has started remembering her dreams, which gives her some mental privacy. They are carving out pieces of the world for themselves, and it is amazing.
**Photo Credit: Jodi
Well, That Took Two Months
The migration from blogspot would have been faster if I had typed each post from memory.
Here’s what you missed: I finished my contemporary adult manuscript, sent it to readers and incorporated their feedback into the draft. I’m querying agents next month, so cross your fingers.
My YA manuscript didn’t sit well with me, so I put it on notice and started another adult manuscript that has been kicking around inside my brain for a year.
If you are my contemporary, you know how difficult it is to find the ideal family friends, where the spouses all like one another, the kids get along like gangbusters, you share the same values and love vacationing together. I am still waiting to meet our family’s perfect mate.
This manuscript has that! For three chapters.
My working title is Things Fall Apart (with apologies to Achebe) and I am loving it, emotional turmoil and all.
Welcome to the improved website and migrated blog. I’m sad to see the blog post tags go, but I love iWeb. Mwah, Apple!
I blog rarely, because I'm busy writing books. When I do blog, I focus on writing, friendship, family, and books. Because my family's best nicknames are private, I use their birth years for shorthand: