"The Letter Carrier" is a young adult novel about a family whose father leaves for one year to serve in Iraq. The protagonist, Sadie, makes a promise with her Dad that they will exchange hand written letters that contain only the 'good stuff'. The promise turns out to be more difficult to fulfill than either of them anticipate. But with the help of a new (tree-climbing, poetry reciting) friend Sadie finds 'good stuff' in unlikely places. Her first letter is about boots and garbage bags, her second is about an abandoned house, her third is about a cemetery (you get the idea). She learns that 'good' isn't always found on outside/initial appearances, but that it can be found in anything depending on your perspective and how willing you are to work to find it--a lesson that proves absolutely crucial to her and her family when they recieve heartwrenching news about their soldier father.
My friend, Shelley, is also writing her first novel and a recent post from her prompted me to write, not so much about my novel, but about the writing process. Can I just say--writing is excruciating! My first draft was in the third person with half of the story line dealing with Sadie's Mom. After some extremely helpful (and generous and kind and HONEST) feedback from friends and my parents (and mother-in-law), I decided to completely rewrite the story from the first person. Yikes. What a task!
Sometimes I feel like a giant radio receptor as I try to pick out the genuine, worthwhile parts of the story from all the static mishmash that swirls in my brain. And I have a very hard time turning off the voices, dialogue, and words that arrange and rearrange as they jostle about noisily while I carry on with my daily tasks.
Then there's something else about novel writing that is perhaps a bit unique to my situation. Because I am a fulltime Mom of five lively, young children, I have to write in catnap portions. I sometimes sneak in an hour of writing before getting the children up and ready for school. I can squeeze in a half an hour of writing when Baby C watches Curious George. And when the fates combine in my favor, I can steal an hour when Baby C goes down for her nap before the twins come home from AM kindergarten. Rarely do I get all these moments all in the same day. And I find myself longing for more solitude--or at least a really good babysitter :).
But then again, that time will come (in two and a half years, but who's counting?). And so for now, I write a paragraph at a time...sometimes only a sentence at a time. Sometimes my writing is quite terrible (resembling a 6th grader's half-hearted essay attempt). And sometimes I turn off the computer with a smile, quite satisfied. My hope is that someday all the work will produce something of value.