How Many Kids Do I Really Have?

Aside from being a writer, I am the proud mother of three young children.   So in addition to being a storyteller, I am also a mediator of fights involving food and/or toys and enforcer of bedtime rituals, teeth brushing and homework, as well as, the motivational speaker to pre-teen angst; not to forget the crazy mom on the sidelines at soccer games yelling at the referee to leave my kid alone (yes, I am that wild eyed woman with no makeup hiding under a baseball hat with a large coffee cup in my hand pacing the field back and forth).

In my spare time, I’m also laundress, housekeeper, cook, server (think Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore and Carson from Downton Abbey without the staff) and finder of everything missing in my home (think CSI without the cool locations and sophisticated labs), aka “the GPS for all things lost.”

So, you might be asking yourself right about now, what  in the world does this have to do with being an author?  Well, the answer occurred to me the other night while I was finishing up a chapter to a novel in progress: It’s the way I have become overprotective of my characters.  They have become, indeed, my offsprings, just like any one of my children.

Now, if you are a mother too and can remember back to the days you were pregnant, you know how much you went through to deliver your little bundle of joy.  Everything in your body was in turmoil, your emotions ran from high to low and vice-versa (like  a  Corvette goes from 0 to 60 in less than five seconds) and you were being stretched to the point that if you were Play Doh, you’d be broken into a million of squishy pieces (I cringe just trying to come up with a mental picture of this).

Whether you remember the labor, the delivery or, like me, had blocked the pain by either passing out or being helped along the way (all I have to say to that is one word-epidural.  Where have you been all of my life?), at the end of a 10-going-25 hour ordeal to the tune of  “Oh dear God, when is this thing coming out of me,”  you were left drained, exhausted but utterly happy holding your little bundle of joy.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying writing is the same as delivering a 7-pound baby and all that comes with that (again, cringe-worthy image) but the process is somewhat the same.  As a writer, you fret, you worry, you write to the point of exhaustion.  You suffer through writer’s block, you read and reread the same paragraph until you think you’ve gone mad.  You endure sleepless nights and anxiety. And at the end of it all, you are left with your pride and joy-your finished novel.

And just like a mother, you are fiercely protective of it.  Just like when my first born son came into this world, I thought he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  No one could tell me differently.   Now twelve years later as I look back at pictures of him as a newborn, I realize how unattractive he really was and wondered what exactly was I thinking (I might have still been under the Percocet induced haze).  But at that time, you couldn’t tell me otherwise or, like a lion, I would have eaten you alive!

I guess when it comes down to it, you always think your children are the best.  They are brilliant, beautiful and the center of your world.  There was a period of a year where I seriously believed my daughter was the next Jackson Pollock.  Her drawings were abstract, vibrant, and full of truth.  The truth was she was three and  she just meshed all of her colors together on a piece of paper because she liked the feel of it between her fingers; not that she was thinking of some greater existential meaning behind it.  But you couldn’t tell me differently at the time.  She was a genius.  A soulful painter who happened to also eat chalk.

And the same thinking applies to my writing.  I can’t help myself. Every time a review comes in, I cringe, hoping that someone liked my story, loved my characters .  After all, they are my babies.  They give me grief. They have me worrying about what direction they will take, what decisions they will make.  And yes, they do make mistakes and are not always smart at making choices.  They can be ditzy and sometimes cruel.  But they’re mine and I love them, flawed and all.

Just like my children, I may roll my eyes at them and wonder what I was  thinking when I created them but I would never change things.  If I had to do it over again, I would still get in front of that computer and type out the same story, the same characters.

Not So Perfect

I have to tell you that since this blog was started, I have become fans of some really incredibly talented bloggers.  I’ve laughed and cried reading their stories.  Recently, I read a blog entry posted by Jodi Ambrose that made me take notice.  Besides being incredibly funny, she wrote about her experience at a local Starbucks where a man judged her by her appearance.  What she said about the idea of perfection made this ‘not so perfect’ woman want to stand up and cheer.  Personally, I think perfection is boring.  Being imperfect and riddled with mistakes is called living life.  In fact, it’s what makes me want to write and tell stories.  My characters are anything but perfect.  They have doubts, are insecure, fall for the wrong person and are definitely not the perfect size 2 that I will never be (even in my dreams or even if I ran from here to China and back). If everything in our lives went as planned or if we all looked polished without a bad hair day in sight what would be the point (and what would we do with all of our baseball hats?).

I certainly don’t pick up a book expecting to read about the perfect woman who has the perfect life, falls for the perfect man and looks absolutely perfect.  Can you say boring? We watch reality TV shows not because of perfect lives that we expect to see but because of the train wreck that is sure to pop up on the screen.  I live for those moments! I like complicated relationships in my romantic comedies.  I like a messy bed sometimes.  I especially like the “Stars Without Makeup Doing Errands” section of US Magazine.  And, most of all, I enjoy ordering my steaming cup of whole milk latte from Starbucks in the mornings wearing my baggy sweatpants without having someone judging me for it.  If that makes me imperfect, then I’m proud to be a member of the Club.  Sign me up, Jodie!


Missing in Action

It’s been awhile since I’ve written.  I wish I could give you some terribly exotic excuse as to why I haven’t updated this blog-like I’ve contracted a rare tropical illness while exploring the jungles of Brazil or that I’ve been on an undercover assignment as the leading lady to James Bond 007 (any of them from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan will do-I’m not picky).  But since I can’t lie (or as my mom and Walt Disney have told me-my nose will grow-and believe me, I don’t need to add “plastic surgery” to my list of what I would change about myself if I could), I will have to fess up and admit my rather ordinary reason for falling behind:

I’ve lost all track of time!

Why?  Because I have been spending it all in my wonderful word of writing.  I’m sure other authors will back me up on this, but once I get into that zone in front of my computer screen, I can’t seem to crawl out of it (picture Mark Zuckenberg with the headsets programming away in the Social Network movie except I wear makeup and my nails are manicured in a flaming red polish).  It’s a world I wish I could live in myself and not just visit.  My characters give me such joy.  They are just like me (of course, they would be.  I created them.) It helps that they share the same love of wine, shopping and laughing out loud as  I do (even if they don’t exactly fit into a size 8 pair of jeans).  If I could make them my best friends in real life, I would.  How I would love to call up Marty and Maggie on the phone to chat about their latest mishaps in love and life!  I would give them my advice (which according to my actual friends is always wrong) and they would go off and get themselves deeper into trouble.  Sadly, they are not real.  Happily though, they exist in my imagination and the good thing about my imagination is that I can bring them up whenever I want.  I can invent new adventures for them or I can invent new characters to go along with the BBFs I already have.  So that is exactly what I have been doing these last few weeks: Creating new friends to keep Marty, Maggie and myself company and certainly entertained.  I hope you like them as much as I am enjoying creating them.  I hope to introduce them to you by the beginning of summer with two new books.  Fingers crossed.  Now back to typing away.  My friends are lonely without me.