I don’t know how I get anything accomplished.
Part of that is, of course, being mom to a two-year-old and a six-month-old. It’s hard enough to balance motherhood with novel writing. You expect the constant interruptions, the neediness, the asynchronous nap times. But then, sometimes, things happen that you don’t expect.
For me, it all began in October and the SC Writer’s Workshop Writer’s Conference. I had a finished manuscript (or so I thought) and was intent on getting it published. The conference was a tremendous success. Three agents expressed interest in my novel, I won 2nd place in the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Award for playwriting, and I received valuable feedback on the shortcomings of my novel. I came home feeling empowered, motivated, and ready to plunge into a final re-write.
And then I got the rug pulled out from under me.
Sam scaled the bathroom counter and played with a bottle of Tylenol. I couldn’t be sure he’d ingested any, and it would only take four and a half to cause major liver damage, so Tom and I took both boys to the emergency room where we sat for four hours. A blood test revealed that Sam was fine. His acetaminophen level was zero. But it was there, at the hospital, that I’m pretty sure I contracted the whooping cough that stopped all work on my book in its tracks. And then the whooping cough became pneumonia. I missed Halloween and was still sick at Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, Sam, my two-year-old, developed his first ear infection. A double ear infection. So in between coughing, vomiting, night sweats, and fever, I took turns staying up nights with him, nursing him back to health, for four weeks when the first round of antibiotics didn’t work.
We all felt good for a week, although I still wasn’t 100 percent. During that time, my follow-up x-rays came back from the radiologist. Something didn’t look quite right. One CT scan later, the doctor discovered that my pneumonia was gone. What he hadn’t expected to find was my slightly enlarged thymus. I’m looking at another CT scan in March, and if it is still enlarged, it might have to be removed through sternum splitting surgery.
Then, the first week of December, Sam developed a sinus infection. Shortly thereafter, John got it too. Yellow pus oozing from the eyes, copious green snot, difficulty breathing, two little boys not sleeping. Then Tom got sick. It started out as a cold, but then he developed a sore throat that no medicine would touch. He also had a sinus infection and a throat full of abscesses. I caught a cold. Then began having sinus pressure and rainbow colored sneezes. I fled to the doctor, terrified of another bacterial infection. He prescribed antibiotics for my head cold, as a preventative measure. I’m in a new category of risk now, susceptible to every infection that comes down the pike.
Then yesterday, with antibiotics in our system, I thought we were all on the mend–until Sam had an Exorcist-esque attack of he stomach flu in his carseat on the way home from preschool. I have spent the last 24 hours literally elbow deep in noxious bodily fluids.
Through it all, I’ve been writing. I finagled Sam into five-day preschool. I told Tom to prepare himself, I was finishing the book this year and if nothing else got done, tough. I ran away from home and pounded out draft after draft at the local Panera. My mantra became “little drops of water fill the bucket.”
And today, all those little splashes of words did indeed fill the bucket. The introduction is entirely new. The writing is tight. The story is ready. And has been sent in its entirety to Agent #1. The book is out there now, in the world, and hopefully, will get published someday.
I’m going to take a writing break for the next few weeks. Thoroughly douse my house in Lysol and clean up the messes I’ve neglected.
Then I’m going back to work on something new.