Coming back home to Maine, I was in for a shock. My fluffy golden retriever . . .
. . .had become a Labrador retriever.
Or perhaps a naked mole rat? Poor Stella had been dying in the summer heat so a buzz cut was in order. She spent the first couple days chewing her tail, but now she is much perkier on her walks. Her feathers will grow back by autumn.
A mother’s solo vacation is more like racking up a debt. My husband coped well during my 5-day absence but didn’t get any work done. With a home office, I’ve learned to work with interruption if not gracefully. My children had so much to tell me they had to talk simultaneously. The laundry, camp forms, home repairs and bills had stacked up.
The piles only grew as my first priority was finishing manuscript revisions for my first reader. Henry is taking S.A.D. to England where he’s visiting family. Call it a test flight for an airplane book. With both of my books I gave my first chapter to my husband to read, and then I shut the door to my office. He waited patiently for years the first time and for months the second time for me to finish.
Henry must have read Moose Crossing six times. My first draft of that novel was a ridiculous 660 pages – more than twice what it is now! I’ve learned. The first draft of S.A.D. is 260 pages with room to expand. True love is the patience to proof carefully and offer constructive criticism.
Henry welcomes the fictional characters and their problems into our home but also entices me back to the real world. My son pointed out some people live in the past, others for the future, but I live too much in my imaginary world.
Stephen King (another Maine author!) wrote an excellent book On Writing in which he describes his creative process as writing for the ideal reader. For him that is his wife. His writing style, like mine, is to lock himself in his office, not sharing half completed work.
There is no one right way to write. The trick is finding the method that works best for you. I need privacy and big chunks of time; others need more feedback and write better in short bursts. All writers need readers because it’s hard to see the fault lines in one’s own work.
Although I write women’s fiction, my ideal reader is my husband. He’s a demanding critic, my most avid supporter and has a great sense of humor. He’s also an excellent writer himself. My comments on his political writing tend towards critique of theory. Academia is geared towards a narrow audience but good writing is all about communicating and entertaining.
Entertaining was the theme of last weekend. My youngest child just turned ten and invited SEVEN girls to what could only be called a wake-over. One parent described the next day as giving your child a hangover as a party favor. Not from alcohol but from sleep deprivation after watching Pirates of the Caribbean and giggling all night long.
P.S. Does anyone know who took the naked mole rat photo? If so leave a comment so I can credit the photographer.