I ran the river trail this morning at dawn (which is not as early as it sounds, please hold your applause). A mallard honked at me, a squirrel scolded. I was otherwise alone, dodging icy patches and thinking about how each day now, until June, will be longer than the day before it, a miracle of earth’s tilt I only try to understand.

(Two days ago: “It’s because the sun starts to move back north, really slowly,” I told the kindergartner. “But the sun doesn’t move. The earth moves,” she said. And my index finger moved in front of my mouth like a harmonica while I thought. “Yes. Snack? Is it snack time?”)

Anyway, I’m grateful, is what I’m trying to say. Extra sunlight, little snow, and a book deadline all landing sweetly in January.

A week or so ago, this was not the case: Dave was in Dallas for an ill-advised week-long work thing; Louisa was puking. I was trying to write a sermon for Jan. 3 and 4; somehow I racked up $2.60 in library fines, completely out of character. “My life is falling apart,” I whined (with self-awareness).

“I think library fines mean you’re doing all right, relatively speaking,” a friend said. I have kind friends.


Anyhow. As I finish the last edits on The Year of Small Things and perfect the yearlong elevator pitch for the book that I’ll have to give between now and its release (early 2017), I wanted to share some truths about writing a book you may not have considered:

  1. The number of singy-song movies you can tolerate your children watching increases the closer you get to deadline.
  2. You will incur massive amounts of library-fine debt over said sing-songy movies.
  3. You will become so tired of defending your theses that by the end of the book, your left eye will twitch when you hear key phrases or words such as “the,” “is,” and “and.”
  4. You will rob Peter (the savings account) to pay Paul (child care). Then you’ll spend 10 minutes on the Goog’ looking for the origin of that saying.
  5. You will do the math and realize that you worked the last 18 months on a book for less than ha’penny an hour.
  6. Because you hate math anyway, you’re OK with this.
  7. You’ll start to doubt all your prior convictions, such as “I hate listy blogs,” “Berry Kix are for kids,” and “Brownies are a ‘sometimes’ food.”
  8. Your fears vacillate between this being the last book you’ll ever write and this being simply the first book you’ll ever write.
  9. When a financial planner asks if you plan to “go back to work” when the youngest is in school, you choke on your gum.
  10. You’ll overhear your oldest telling her friend that “My mom writes books,” and you’ll wonder how on earth you pulled this off.

Coming later in January: No more list posts, thoughts on writing a book that new monastics will read, and more. But first ……. I go back to my writerly cave.