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Cleaning Toilets and Wiping Butts

I’ve started a new feature here at the blog. Wednesday is guest post day. It might not be every Wednesday, hell let’s be honest here–it might even just last a week, but I love the idea of a guest post. It’s the virtual equivalent of having someone over for ice cream and cookies.

And who doesn’t love cookies?

Today’s post comes from one of my very favorite twitter friends, Susan James. Once every living creature in her house has been fed and Frodo’s been walked, she writes and querys her manuscript. She blogs occasionally, too.

“I thought all you did all day was clean toilets and wipe my kids’ butts.”

Yep, those were the first words out of my sweet husband’s mouth when I showed him the manuscript I’d been pouring my soul into for the last six months. Before you rise up in outrage, let me assure you he was joking. Sort of.

And I’m partly to blame for that.

I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book. I didn’t even know I was writing a book. I only knew I found myself sitting at stop signs listening to people talking in my head while the groceries melted in the back seat. I figured I could sit down and start typing or go see a psychiatrist.

After my husband’s stunned disbelief that his wife could “write anything this good,” I got the nerve to give my first chapters to a friend. She’s a very no-nonsense working mother of three, one of whom has all sorts of odd allergies and a propensity for pneumonia. Seriously, the kid is allergic to dog licks. My friend has no time to let one down slowly or beat around the bush. But that’s what I wanted- honesty. After all, my husband had to live with me.

Several days later, this message was left on my machine: I am absolutely SHOCKED that YOU wrote this….it’s so good.

I was getting a little pissed. Did I come across as completely unimaginative or inarticulate? Even so, bolstered by their left-handed compliments, I went to a writer’s conference  and began querying. I won’t bore you with that process, but I will say that writing the novel was a complete joy. Writing strong queries and crisp summaries takes serious concentration. Eventually, I had to bribe my kids to

  • a. let me have the computer
  • b. go away from the room while I’m on it
  • c. take the dog with them
  • d. turn down the TV (Darth Vader breathes way too loud.)
  • e. quit reading over my shoulder and critiquing me!
  • This was the final deal: “If you’re helpful, I’ll have time to personalize all these queries. Maybe, I’ll get published some day and when I do, I’ll buy you a present with my advance. Anything you want.”

Like fantasizing over the lotto, my kids dream of the gift I’ll buy them. (Jamie steps in here to say that she’s promised her own kid that if mommy’s book gets published, she’ll take her to Disney World just so daughter will let her write.) My daughter wants an iPhone. My son wants these really scary knives we saw in a shop in Chinatown. My husband freaked- the knives were seriously scary.  “Don’t worry,” I said. “I have to get published first.”

But by his sheer, sincere fright at the idea of his son owning a huge ninja knife, I knew my husband really did appreciate me as a writer and not just a cleaner of his toilet.

If you’d like to guest post on my blog, just send me an email: I’d love to have you!

Callie Forester

Monday 7th of June 2010

This is a great blog--congrats on getting the book done! It's taking me way longer than six months. I'm two years in and still editing. Sigh. I never get how people get stuff done so fast. lol.

My kids are the same way--they've already spent all the money they're certain I'll make. haha. :)

so, if you are looking for something fun to take your mind of querying stress, we are having a cute contest at our site. Just click the blog link and add a lyric to our song/story. the prize is a $25.00 I-tunes card. :)

Hope to see you over there! Great job on the book. :)


Friday 4th of June 2010

Yeah, my son is already mentally spending my first advance. I don't have the heart to tell him it will probably amount to $1.73 after taxes. :O) .-= @jmartinlibrary´s last blog ..Meet My New BFF, INTERIORITY =-.

Susan James

Thursday 3rd of June 2010

Thanks guys and thanks Jamie for the fun opportunity. .-= Susan James´s last blog ..Blather =-.

Aimee Bartis

Thursday 3rd of June 2010

Awesome post Susan and Jamie! I enjoy you both so much on twitter. Your writing journeys are fun to watch and inspiring! .-= Aimee Bartis´s last blog ..Beautiful Creatures =-.

Lisa Green

Thursday 3rd of June 2010

I can tell you're going to be buying some knives soon, Susan. I loved your post! I'm sure that voice comes through in the manuscript. .-= Lisa Green´s last blog ..The Ogre and the Slushpile oh and a winner... =-.