5 Things Day Six: Stories and Writing

Isaac Sept 16.jpg

1. Fried rice might be the most ordinary food in all of Thailand, and it might be my favorite.

2. This week I’ve been menu-planning and planning for shopping so that I don’t need to go to the market every day. It’s been amazing. I need to keep it up. The afternoon market is just a block away, so it is easy to forget about dinner until about 4:00 (or sometimes even 5:00) and then walk over there and shop and get back and cook. But I’ve discovered that when I do it that way, I do it with a lot of stress. It seems to be better to do a couple of big market runs twice a week or so, with little shopping trips (because I always forget things) in between. You may be surprised to find that I’m just figuring this out now. I’m not a grownup, remember? I’m a writer.

3. Speaking of writing, I’m happily working through my fourth draft of my current novel. Once I get this fourth pass done, it will be ready to send to beta readers, and after another quick pass, to an editor. I can’t wait for you to meet Timothy and Prema. Oh, and Isaac. You see, there is a baby in my book named Isaac, and he was named Isaac before I was even pregnant, but then I liked the name so much I named my real baby Isaac, but the book baby can’t be changed. So I have two Isaacs. And here’s a tip: If you’re writing a book about a baby, there is no more excellent method of research than to have another baby yourself. He is my research baby.

4. I have all this time when I’m either nursing or getting Isaac to sleep, and I have my little iPod touch that I can use, carefully, quietly, behind his back while I’m doing that. (Carefully and quietly because he gets soooo distracted if he knows I’m doing anything at all.) Usually I read things on the internet, or read books, or even play games. But recently I’ve started to use this time to brainstorm my next book. For those of you interested in nerdy writer things, I’ve always been what’s called a “pantser,” meaning that I begin writing with little more than an idea in mind and through writing and rewrites, find my story and all it’s characters. This usually means a LOT of rewrites. With my next book, I’m going to try to plot it first, which should save time on rewrites, and also leave a lot of room for play and imagination without the added responsibility of good writing. Get all the ideas out, sketch it out, and then call forth the writer. You are almost bringing three people into the work room: the story dreamer, the writer, and the editor, each at different times.

So my story dreamer is going wild during this time of nursing and as I told Chinua yesterday, I haven’t had this much fun in a long, long time. Part of the fun is in the fact that I’m dreaming up a story in the only other genre that I love as much as the mainstream fiction that I normally write, which is fantasy, bent toward young people. Fantasy! But do not worry, my friends, there are no vampires.

I’m bubbling over right now, writing this. I genuinely love this new story. (And it’s going to be a series.)

But I’m getting ahead of myself, because that’s a long way down the road, and what you are going to be reading much sooner is all about Timothy and his travels through India. There are trains (how many train scenes are too many in one novel?) and boats, and lots of chai.

And as an aside, I finally got the review on Trees Tall as Mountains that I was previously nervous about, where the reviewer found me "whiny and dysfunctional," and I'm pleasantly surprised by how little it touches me. My heart is well guarded from bad reviews, friends, and I think that is largely in part to the encouragement of Journey Mama readers. And personally, I think dysfunctional is a mild word for what I am--that's kind of the point. :) But I've learned that some people don't like to read about people who are dysfunctional- it's a matter of taste. I do, I always have. And if you're still here, I guess you do too. (By the way, I share this hesitantly, as part of my journey, but don't want anyone here to react by commenting on the review or anything. I hate internet pile-ons. Let's just say I share this because I trust your judgement as readers, and that I'm happy to have people with different tastes read my stuff and even to have negative reviews. It's all part of it.)

5. Isaac has learned to play peek-a-boo and you’d never have guessed, I know, but it is the cutest thing ever. My heart hurts with all the love I have for this dear baby. And I feel like such a different woman than I was eleven years ago with my first sweet Kai baby. Isaac feels so simple, he is with me almost always and caring for him is like breathing. What a gift God gives us-- this bond between mother and baby. It goes so deep, deep into the quietest, most nourishing parts of me. I do love my baby so.