I've just returned from a weekend trip to Birmingham with my oldest daughter. It was her birthday, and she wanted to forego the birthday party and go shopping for something "cool" for her room. As you can imagine, I was ecstatic. No slumber party with insomniac, crying, emotionally hysterical ten-year-old girls? Woo Hoo!!! (although I probably missed out on some great research for my middle-grade)
While in Birmingham, I had a fantastic lunch with Lindsey Leavitt and Irene Latham, both authors with books coming out in 2010. I had met them at our regional SCBWI conference last year and couldn't wait to catch up. We talked about all kinds of wonderful writer things--at least as much as we could without boring my daughter and Irene's son into a stupor--and Irene asked me when I wrote my first novel. Hmmm. When?
I wrote it after I had my last baby--when I had a newborn. It hit me what a gift it was for me as a writer to have that little, helpless baby in my life. The thing about newborns is that they don't do much, and they can't get into trouble. They just lie around looking adorable, and they sleep a LOT (okay, there are body functions that have to be taken care of from time to time, too). But, having a baby who took morning and afternoon naps did something for me . . . she forced me to stay at home with nothing else to do. I couldn't run out to the gym or grocery store. I could say "no" to field trips and other mom obligations. That little baby actually enabled me to get my novel written!!
Before and after my trip this weekend, my family has been plagued by a wicked stomach bug. Once again, I've been forced to stay here at home. I couldn't leave right now to go to Kroger if I wanted to because I've got an eight-year-old napping upstairs. And what has happened these last few days??? I have been camped out on my living room couch surrounded by writing books, conference notes, and my computer--and I've been cooking on my latest novel. Cooking, I tell you!
So, what have I learned from this little lesson? I think it is to treat my novel as I would a sick child--I won't leave the house while it needs my attention. And, the bonus is that there will be no body functions to clean up!
And, Happy Birthday Katie!!!!!