And now we are here at the now.
I have had a working relationship with Anne Frye for many, many years. Seventeen or eighteen years, I guess. As with many remarkable things in my life, that year all the pieces simply fell into place for me to become what I had wanted since high school (a medical illustrator) in the field I was pursuing (midwifery). I mean, how many people can say they illustrated their own textbooks? Not many, I’m sure.
So, with only a few months to complete hundreds of drawings, I undertook the daunting task of illustrating Holistic Midwifery, Volume I. I quit my day job, working sixty, seventy hours a week to complete these drawings. And this was before scanners and computer images were readily available, so mistakes were corrected with white-out, and enlarging, and whiting out some more. It was a steep learning curve for both Anne and me. But we pulled it off.
Then came Volume II, and the Diagnostic Tests book, and the brutal Healing Passage, which is a suturing manual for midwives. Let’s just say that I have drawn more labia than anyone has a right to have done. The years rolled by. Our first book together was reprinted, I got married, gave birth twice, and quit midwifery altogether during the course of those four books.
Now it is time to revise and reprint Volume I. I am happy to say that most of the drawings are still usable. I will clean them up and re-label them on the computer – a far cry from the barbaric and ancient practice of printing out the labels (uterus, bladder, etc. etc.) on a piece of paper, then cutting them out and gluing them down, then drawing a line from label to part. Unfortunately, though, there are more than a few that need to be re-drawn entirely, from scratch. And I dread it. I dread every moment of it. For one, I’m out of practice. Long gone are the days when I drew obsessively, every moment, for the sheer joy of it. Long gone are the days when I could easily see details and fine lines simply by moving my head closer. Long gone are the days when I could hold a pen in my hand for hours without my thumb and fingers becoming stiff and sore. In short: I am old, Father William. And I just don’t see this being the easy process it once was. For two, it is going to eat more of my time than I want to give.
Tomorrow I meet with Anne – as per usual for our ‘reunion’ meetings, she is taking me to lunch downtown. She loves nothing more than fancy restaurants that serve teeny portions of odd things that I wouldn’t even think of eating. But that is her passion, so we will go. Then we will sit with the book and she will tell me which drawings she thinks need re-done, and I will fight tooth and nail to convince her otherwise. This is not our first book together, so I know that whereas this is her life and livelihood and she can and will devote every waking moment to it – it is not so for me. I have two children. I am very involved in their school lives. I am volunteering with hospice as well. And …
There is the book.
A while back I wrote a novel. I wrote it because I was contacted by an agent who thought I should. So I did. I worked on it, off and on, for three years. Then I hired an editor and had it professionally edited. Then I sent it to the agent, and she said no. I tossed around the idea of publishing it online, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Because…
My husband and I decided to write a middle reader series together. We got the idea two years ago, possibly more. We have talked about it for countless hours. We have drawn maps. We have outlines, timelines, backgrounds, research. We are excited. We love our story. We love our characters. I have written almost half of the first volume. I love it so. But parenting, life, time (or lack thereof) keeps stepping in, sweeping aside my drive and ability to work on our books.
But they are always on my mind. I read middle reader fiction, I read YA fiction, I keep looking for anything that resembles what we are working on and so far (knock wood) there hasn’t been any. The genre is ripe for the picking. It has been sorely neglected. And while the theme isn’t new, I think our books will find a place. If only life would stop long enough for me to write. If there weren’t these… things:
First of all, here comes Anne with revising Volume I. This will be a major drain on my time. Major. And of course there is the basic (constant) need for housekeeping, feeding my family, caring for my children, and my volunteer work (and my bridge games and charity functions, ha ha). I’m not complaining, mind you, but I do understand how what’s-her-name ended up locking herself in the bathroom, away from her children, to write her famous novel.
Which leads me to another point, and that is my complete ignorance of literary – stuff.
See, I read wonderful YA novels, and then I see the authors have websites. Which link to their blogs! And their Twitters! And their other stuff! They go to book shows or fairs or parties or openings. They toss around acronyms (I had to look up what ARC is). They schmooze. They loyally follow other writers’ blogs. They themselves blog. They travel. They recognize other writers by sight. Where they find the time to actually write, I don’t know. But I am willing to bet that most of them don’t have children.
I feel completely inept. Or, as Harry Mudd’s women would say, “I am not programmed to respond in this area.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Mudd
See, I am so inept that I have no idea how to make that link be what you went to if you clicked on “Harry Mudd”. I do not know how to Twitter. I do not know who wrote the famous book, locked in her bathroom, or even what that book was about. And I probably wouldn’t recognize most authors even if they were carrying their own book in front of them. I learned how to type on a typewriter. I was nearly thirty when email was invented. I don’t know if I have it in me to be what it appears to take to become a successful writer these days. I wish I could sit down with Jo Rowling and get her take on this. How did you manage without modern technology? How did you make it without first being part of that world? How did you make the time?
And, just to give you an example – in writing this post, I have been interrupted by children and husband needing something five times. FIVE.
All I know is that I have to try. I may be sixty before I ever see our book published. And that is just going to have to be okay.