I survived the holiday weekend. I took off the 4th, didn’t even really think about the book, but Friday, Sunday, and Monday, I exceeded my daily page goal, so I’m making good progress. Chapter six is coming along pretty nicely, and I like the direction everything is going. I finish my summer school class tonight and turn in grades tomorrow, so my plan is to spend the next month really busting my butt to get up to chapter eight and maybe even nine before school starts back. I’ll have to slow way down in the fall because of my teaching schedule, but if I can get up to eight or nine by then, I can still finish the rough draft by January.
Then comes the real work, the polishing and editing. For this book, I plan to spend a good five to six months editing each chapter, each scene, and each sentence. I want this book to be the best so far, and what separates mediocre writing from good and good from great is the willingness to polish and rewrite, so for this book I plan to work with a couple of editors and spend as much time as it takes to get it right.
I know several of you want it done as soon as possible, but I’d rather take my time and get it right, than rush it and disappoint.
I write at night and always have. My creative window stretches from about 11:00 PM until around 4:00 AM. I’ve tried writing at other times, but I just never feel comfortable, and the writing doesn’t flow very well. Over the years, I’ve trained myself to work within this window and still function fairly well in my day-to-day life. If I have to work early the next morning, I start as early as possible and lose an hour or two of sleep that night. If I don’t have to work, I might stay up until four or five in the morning, and on those nights, I’ll sleep until noon. That might sound strange to some, but it works for me.
My ex-wife never understood this. She complained all the time that I should write in the day and sleep a normal schedule. My parents don’t understand it, either. They’re from that generation that believes people should rise with the sun. Anyone who sleeps late must be lazy and good for nothing. They don’t seem to understand that I’m very productive on that schedule. When I’m working on a book, I will write five to six nights a weeks, and when I’m writing, I don’t sit around staring off into space. I’m deeply engaged in concentration, and it’s exhausting.
If I can ever get to the point where I’m writing full-time, my creative window won’t matter very often because I won’t have to get up for a day job. Until I get to that point, I’ll keep plugging away and losing a little sleep every now and then. As long as the end result is a good book, it doesn’t really matter.
If I ever decide to have another relationship, it will only be with a certain kind of woman, and I will not settle for less. Here’s what I need from someone:
1.) A friend, a woman who accepts me as I am, a woman who forgives my flaws and my mistakes without being too harsh with criticism. I need someone I can lean on from time to time.
2.) A partner, a woman who understands my creative side and encourages me to write and promote without feeling like I’m ignoring her or putting her second.
3.) An independent thinker, a woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind or have opinions or put me in my place from time to time.
4.) A football fan, a woman who enjoys the game, not someone who just tolerates me watching it. I need a woman who understands zone blocking, man-to-man coverage, and zone blitzes.
5.) A lover, a woman who will spend a night on the sofa kissing me for as long as I want. A woman who wants to talk and laugh and spend time together having fun. A woman who is comfortable making love without her makeup on.
6.) A mother, a woman who loves her children as much as I love mine.
7.) A Strong Person, a woman who can give me space when I need it without feeling neglected. The demons that haunt me sometimes make me sit alone for long stretches with nothing but my thoughts, and I need someone who can handle this.
8.) A Nurturer, a woman who can soothe me after a long, hard day. Sometimes, the day-to-day is too much, and while I’m quite capable of being someone else’s rock, it would be nice to be loved on from time-to-time.
And here’s what I don’t need:
1.) Another mother, one is more than enough for me.
2.) A maid, I can take care of myself.
3.) A nurse, see above.
4.) A leech, my energy is my own and very precious.
5.) A coward, life is about taking risks and putting yourself out there.
6.) A cheater.
So there it is. Applications are available in the HR office down the hall.
So to continue my story about the birth of my first son, after seeing the first ultrasound, something in me changed, and that’s when I started writing again. I felt in my heart like the only thing I could ever be truly successful at was writing, and I knew that I had to make something of myself to provide a better life for him. So I started writing The Brotherhood of Dwarves. I hadn’t written anything in a few years, and at first, I was very unsure of myself. It shows in the first chapter, too. I was finding my voice, my rhythm, my pace.
Crystal and I were never happier than during that pregnancy. Everyone commented on it, and you can see it in pictures of us. We both glowed. We were a team, and we had endured a long, dark process together and came out the other side successfully. During those eight and a half months, we were always together, playing games, laughing, talking, making plans. It was one of the happiest periods of my life. I read stories and sang to her belly almost every night, and life was good.
I’ll probably have to write an entire entry about his birth. Too much happened to squeeze it all in here and do it justice. So that’s all for now. I’ll save that story for another day.
It’s good to stay occupied with work. I’m teaching summer school, working on book three, and promoting, and these things keep my mind busy and active. I wish I could focus all of my attention on writing and promoting. I wish I could travel every week to a new show and live on the road most of the year. I can write from anywhere, and if I could make enough money to pay my child support and sustain myself, that’s what I’d do.
Back to grading. Just wanted to share that thought.
I realized I’ve never really written about my marriage and that part of my life. I was with her for right at 12 years, and while things ended about as badly as they could have, the marriage overall was pretty good. We were both kids when we met. I was 23 and she was 17. We dated until she turned 18, and then pretty much moved in together. The first three years were fun. We moved to Memphis where I went to graduate school, and we had our routines that we both loved. Our favorite was our weekly trip to the zoo. We got to know several of the animals pretty well, and some of them even recognized us when we came by.
Then, we got married, and the first thing that happened to us as a married couple was a miscarriage. She blamed me for it because we had moved back to East Tennessee after I received my Master’s, and she had wanted to stay in Memphis. She felt like the move caused the miscarriage, and maybe it did. That first year of marriage was rough.
Then, we worked things out and got back to being very good friends. We decided to try again to start a family and found out that she had some fertility issues that needed to be resolved. That first pregnancy was a total fluke. We spent three years trying with very little success until one morning, she woke me up and told me that she had a positive test. We were both elated. I bet my feet didn’t touch the ground for a week. A couple of days before Christmas, she started spotted pretty badly, so we rushed to the OB/GYN, and he broke the bad news to us that we had lost that one, too. It took two weeks for the miscarriage to happen, and having to go through Christmas and New Year’s like that was a pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
The next four or five months were bleak. The doctor convinced us that if we really wanted children, that was the best time. A woman’s body is very fertile after a miscarriage because it still believes it’s pregnant. So we took January off and then got back on the treatments in February, March, and April, but we had no luck. In May, we decided to take time off from the treatments. Emotionally, we were both drained, and the idea of another disappointment was too much. She continued charting her body temperature, however, and on the day of ovulation, she asked if I wanted to give it a shot.
If I wrote a book like this, it would be laughed off as too much, but of course, we got pregnant. On July 4, 2003 she started spotting again, much like before. That year, if memory serves, the Fourth was on a Friday, so we had to go the entire weekend without knowing anything. She was convinced that she was losing this one, too, but somehow, I knew we weren’t. Not sure how I knew, but a little voice was telling me that everything would be okay. Still, it was a painfully long weekend.
July 7, 2003, we went to his office for an ultrasound. That day will stay with me forever. Few sounds have ever been sweeter than Collin’s little heartbeat fluttering away at 140 bpm. I became a man that day. I was 30 years old.
I’ll write more about the next seven months later. For now, I’m gonna go enjoy that memory.