This is How Books are Written

I’ve been writing a lot of fiction in this rocking chair lately. It’s the one in Leo and Poppy’s room. Leo usually falls asleep in about 27 seconds (he’s recently transitioned into not taking naps, so he’s zonked by about 5 p.m.), but Poppy lays quietly in her bed, under her peach and yellow-colored blanket, her pacifier making little cricket chirps as she drifts off. Her eyelids get heavy. She stares at her tiny fingernails, at the nightlight, at the ceiling.

And as she settles into another night of sleep, I sit here in this chair and type away.

This is the thing about writing that maybe non-writers haven’t really considered, but many of us writers are doing this crazy story-creating or book-writing in the slim margins of our days. Yesterday, Maile walked Sammy to school with Leo and Poppy, then went to a nearby park so that she could write while the two Littles played on the playground. It was cold. It was in the 50s. But she saw a window of time and she grabbed it.

Soon, Sam’s wrestling season will begin, and you’ll find me two nights a week from 6:30 to 8:00pm perched on a rolled up wrestling mat off to the side of the practice room, writing. Many nights, if one of us isn’t too tired, you’ll find Maile and I in bed, both of us on our laptops, working on our stories.

This is how the words find their way home. This is how stories get told. This is how books are written.

* * * * *

Recently in one of our podcast episodes, I told Maile that I will often tell writers to keep going. Keep going. You’ll get there. And she asked me, where is “there.” What does that even mean?

A good question.

And then this afternoon, our two oldest kids brought a few friends home from high school, and they spent the afternoon in the family room, one of them on the piano, one on a guitar, one singing, and one writing lyrics. They worked on making up their own song.

Where is “there”? Where is this writing taking us?

Maile or I may not win the Newbery award, and we may not win the Pulitzer, and we might not win the Nobel Peace prize for literature, but our kids see us creating, they see us fitting the thing we love into our lives, they see that we value creativity, and now they’re doing it, too.

They’re making space.

I think we’re getting there.

* * * * *

If there’s something creative you want to fit into your life, start small. Find a fifteen-minute window here, a thirty-minute window there, a ten-minute slot at the beginning or end of the day. Don’t put it off until you can rearrange your life to do that thing full time.

Get your words in. Draw up your business plan. Start painting or taking photos or fixing up furniture. And watch these things begin to take on a life of their own.

* * * * *

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to our podcast yet, you can check it out at these locations:

The Stories Between Us Episode 2

Apple Podcast

If you missed the first episode, you can check that out here:

The Stories Between Us Episode 1

2 Replies to “This is How Books are Written”

  1. I will say a hardy Amen to this. Squeeze writing in the minutes you have here and there, for seldom are there whole days or weeks to steal away from loved ones and duties. I had a church friend who felt she had to completely clear her schedule for a day or even a week to find time to do creative writing. I was never able to share about grabbing the ten minutes here, the 15 minutes there. And sometimes just getting one word down to jog my memory and start up the engine is enough “writing” to start a direction for a page of writing. I know you know all this, but wanted to chime in.

  2. This is such a true picture of the writing life when you have a family. My kids are grown now, so writing is a luxurious gift of time. But I always say I wrote my first book between making glasses of chocolate milk. I remember going to my critique group and them bringing chapters for us to read, while I rejoiced that I’d addressed an envelope to send a query letter out. It does happen eventually. And that’s soon enough.

Comments are closed.