The second chapter of my novel When the Sparrow Sings is out today at The Hardball Times. Go read it now, while it’s still warm from the oven.

Books and Kids

February 20, 2014

A lot of time has passed since I spent this much time worrying about words. Chapters two and three of When the Sparrow Sings have passed through the editorial process and will be up over the course of the next month and a bit. Chapter four will be ready for editors soon. And, of course, I’m still teaching writing and English and blogging for way too many sites. It’s a busy time.

In putting this book together, I’ve found myself reminded of an interview where Paul Harding (who won the Pulitzer for Tinkers) talked about writing with small children around. He called it guerilla writing and that sounds about right to me. Until recently, I’d used the excuse of not being able to do it unless I had extended time to focus. Well, now that I have deadlines, that’s out the window, isn’t it? Kids are watching a cartoon? Write. Kids are in bed, but I’m really tired? Suck it up and write. Kids have forgotten I exist for at least 30 seconds? Write. Spare moment during my planning period at school? Write.

It’s worked surprisingly well, and I’m hoping it will serve as motivation for me to continue working hard on things when I’ve finished completely with Sparrow sometime this summer.

Speaking of my kids (as I did earlier), they’ve been interesting lately. And I mean that without any sort of connotation. Simone is getting an allowance now when she does her chores, and that’s working out well. She’s getting a little bit of a sense about how money works.

This past Saturday, Cate was out at a babywearing thing with James and I took Simone out for a special treat. She’d heard about The Hobbit just from being in our house and recently, there had been a line of questioning about just exactly what hobbits are. There’s a new edition out with lots of illustrations by Jemima Catlin and I thought she might be ready for it. I don’t think she’d sit through it without the pictures, but with them, it seemed worth a shot. So we went to Barnes and Noble because I knew they had it (sorry my local indie store, I still love you and I’ll be back soon). I showed it to her, and we flipped through the pictures. I asked if she wanted to try it (enthusiastic yes) and got it for her. It was neat seeing how thrilled she was to have her own, big, hardback book.

After we grabbed the book, we had lunch together in the little cafe at the back of the store. A bunch of people seemed irritated because the four-year-old was excited and four, but she was very sweet, and it’s a coffee shop, not an office, so they can go suck an egg. After that, we walked around the kids section a little and she quizzed me a bit about whether or not she could have things (no) and how long it would take her to save her allowance for them. We spent maybe an hour walking around before we headed home.

Once we were home, she wanted to read her book right away and laid on top of me through the first 20 pages. I was quite impressed with her and I’m thrilled to be reading her a book I really loved as a kid.

James has been teething so there have been some sleep issues, but he’s also finally going through a bit of a daddy phase. It’s nice to have him come to me instead of Cate sometimes. He’ll be two this weekend, and I’ve been waiting all that time for this to happen. We read together a lot and he’s still small enough that I can toss him easily into the air. Simone doesn’t always like it as she views me as entirely hers. She’ll need to learn to share. Hard as that may be.

As I’m typing this, it’s warmed up for the first time in ages, and I’m rather enjoying it. I do like all the snow we’ve had this winter, though. I’m normally miserable for much of winter, but it was nice to look out onto the blanket of white and it was fun to play in it with Simone. This further convinces me that it’s time to move to the northeast. One more year, I think, and then we’ll be ready.