When I imagined staying home to write, my vision looked like this:
Send Charles and Zoe off to school
Clean a little
Welcome my family home
*record screeches to a halt*
Because yeah. When does life EVER mirror our daydreams?
The reality is, life happens. This week I had one goal: finish my edits on Undead America 2: No Angels.
Standing in my way were dozens of errands, two stories I need to finish for various competitions, and a house that is chronically infiltrated by Evil Pets. Also, it rained all week, which meant Evil Pets tracked in muck and debris and wanted to go in and out and in and out and in and out and on and on and on.
By yesterday afternoon, I still had over a hundred pages of edits left to enter into my document. Errands had taken longer than anticipated. Anticipated work-time kept getting interrupted. And then, this morning I wound up having to go to the county tax office, the treasurer, and finally, the DMV.
Yes. The DMV.
I figured there was no way on this earth that I would ever finish. Ever.
The happy news is that the DMV actually went pretty smooth, and then I tied myself to the couch this afternoon and finished my edits.
The sad news is I spent much of the week being ridiculously stressed out, all based on my own stupid expectations. I almost forgot to let myself live.
Luckily, my life doesn't give me a choice. It intervenes.
And when life intervenes....sometimes cool things happen...
Like Monday. I had to take the new car to the dealership for a routine checkup. I was going to have around an hour to sit in the waiting room, so I took my laptop and my edits. Because of course I took my laptop and my edits.
I sat down on a leather couch and pulled out my computer. I started typing away.
The voice was gravely, grainy. I looked up. An elderly woman sat in a small chair at the other end of the couch. She was elegant in a camel coat and matching hat, with stockings, kitten-heeled pumps and a bright green skirt. Her hair was perfectly bobbed beneath her hat.
Beside her sat a man, older than she, stopped, wearing a veteran cap and a windbreaker.
She was talking to me. Staring at me.
I jumped. "Yes?"
"What is that...that...apple thing you're holding? And what are you doing with that stack of paper?"
I explained I was a writer, and that I was editing my book. That it was a fiction novel (her phrase, not mine), and that I have a book released for e-readers.
"Oh, you mean like my husband...he has a thing...honey, what is that, that thing you read on at night? For your books?"
It was a Kindle. Of course it was a Kindle. But they both like non-fiction, not my crazy fiction-novels. She's reading a book about Coco Chanel and it is fascinating.
At first I regretted the loss of work-time.
But then I began to listen. To really listen.
I learned she had more books in her house than food. "More books than food...more books than food...that's how much I love to read." She has a college professor daughter. She has volunteered with schools her whole life.
She loves knowledge, and learning.
Her husband was in the war, in the Navy. He was stationed on an aircraft carrier, and that's why he can't hear. You know, the airplane engines...they're loud.
During the war, she had to find work. She lived in New York, where she worked as a model. Not for the runways, or the pictures, of course. Just for the department stores. She was only 93 pounds, you know, back then, and she modeled the clothes for the fancy women who wanted to buy them. You had to take off the jacket, just so, to show if it was lined or not. She only did it because she got to keep the clothes.
But the secret to life is to read, to love books. Our schools will fail if we don't pay our teachers more, and if we don't all love reading.
Because books are everything.
Can you imagine having missed that conversation? It was one of the best hours of my week, hands down. She was so beautiful, so elegant, so full of life.
I can't write in a vacuum. I have a life. I'm still a mom and a wife, and I have a house and a menagerie of animals.
And if I don't have a life, even a life outside this house, and my husband, and my child and my animals, I'll never have anything good to write about anyway.