This post was originally published in 2013. Here's a look back in time to the year that I finally finished that pesky novel I'd been working on for 4 years: the novel that became my debut: Lemongrass Hope.
As I get ready to release my fifth novel into the world (the follow-up novel to Lemongrass Hope), it was a little jarring to remember how many times I almost gave up. The truth was, I didn't, and still don't, know how it all ends.
Another Repo Truck was here the other night. They show up every few months.
Sometimes they arrive in the middle of the night - headlights streaming into my bedroom window, waking me up with a start. Sometimes a nicely dressed man will come to the door at noon, and politely ask where I am hiding the car.
They're not looking for me, of course. Or anyone I know.
They are looking for the man who used to live here, before we bought the house. A man who hasn't lived here for many years, and who apparently stopped paying for his Ford Explorer a few years ago, when he realized he had "bitten off more than he could chew."
This is how I explain it to the kids that night, as the enormous tow truck sat in our driveway for a half hour after dusk, while my husband summoned the police to try to end this seemingly endless pattern.
He STOLE a car, Mom?
You mean, our house is like a CRIME SCENE?
That is awesome!
It is only the first week of summer break, and they are positively RAPTUROUS about how things are shaping up already.
And as I am cleaning up dinner dishes with swirling police lights, several officers, and a mountain-shaped, heavily tattooed Repo Man sitting in his truck just outside the door, I am thinking that maybe it's a good thing that summer has finally arrived, because this is not even CLOSE to the most hectic night I've had lately.
It's not even in the top 10.
Don't get me wrong. This was a great school year. The kids had great years - blooming and thriving - each in their individual ways.
But for me - let's just say, this has not been the quietest of school years.
In a lot of ways, it was reminiscent of the 2009-2010 school year.
That was the year that I committed to doing ONLY things I wanted to do - for one whole year. I only returned calls of people I wanted to talk to. I only did things that made me deliriously happy. I left a draining position at a corporate law firm. I discovered Hybrid Mom, and started freelancing. I started volunteering. I got my first stint as "Homeroom Mom." I joined the gym. I signed up for Facebook.
Oh, and I started writing my book that year.
I had stopped writing (creatively, at least) many years before, when an American Literature professor and I butted heads over the literary merit of the controversial book, Lolita, and he rewarded my term paper accordingly.
In hindsight, the C was probably deserved, the "+" was just a patronizing dig.
But the truth is, that C+ shook up what I thought about my writing, my voice, and even my law school dreams.
Soon after the C+, a friend who had recently started law school cheered me up over drinks, explaining that I shouldn't let my American Lit grade deter me from my law school aspirations.
In fact, law school success - my kind friend informed me - requires swallowing any creative voice you might have. And instead of being horrified by this little bit of news, I finished my drink, re-committed myself to going to law school, and swore I would never again write another piece of creative work in my own voice again.
Fast forward to 2009, when I started writing again.
Take THAT, Lolita and American Lit.
After years of writing nothing but legal briefs, oral argument outlines, and deposition questions, I picked up a pen and wrote "Unscathed," my story of healing after a plane crashed on my residential corner years before. I applied for and obtained a column on Examiner.com. My work started getting picked up in other places: The Huffington Post, Law Practice Today, The Glass Hammer, Yahoo Shine. People began paying me to write, and I began calling myself a writer.
I started a novel, and I made great headway. But when the year was up - the year I'd given myself to do ONLY things I wanted - I stalled and stopped on the novel, putting it aside for another day.
So, this school year has been a lot like the 2009-2010 year in that I only took on things I wanted to do again this year. Which has included work with my favorite start-up company, treasurer of a local judicial campaign, heading up a town-wide hurricane relief effort, holding down an Art Goes to School teaching position, two Board positions, three homeroom mom spots, teeball team mom responsibilities, and trying to (almost) never miss Book Club, Vegan Cooking Club, or Body Combat class.
Oh, and I've been working on the novel again this year.
I've given myself permission to spend some of our free time - nights, weekends, to work on it. To type on my laptop while dinner is cooking. To tuck the kids in a few minutes early so I can still work while I have some waning energy left at the end of the night. To wake up when it's still dark out to finish another 1,000 words before the sun - or any of my kiddos - are up.
It's been a little nuts around here. Laundry backs up and sometimes we do toilet paper roulette - one or two rolls travel among the bathrooms in the house - for two full days before I actually get to the grocery store. We're not always on time to events, and I did forget about drum lessons exactly once.
So frankly, when the Repo Man shows up again, and the police have to be summoned, I'm not all that impressed by the ensuing chaos. But I do pause for a moment as I explain to the kids what "biting off more than you can chew" really means.
And I wonder - not for the first time - if maybe I should put away the novel again for a little while, now that the school year is over.
That moment passes quickly.
With the Repo Man still outside, I decide that despite the chaos, unlike in the summer of 2010, I'm not calling an end to the year of doing only what I want. Because I really do believe - at my core - that EVERY year should be spent doing things you REALLY want to do.
Take THAT, Lolita and American Lit.
After all, let's not forget that even though he's at my house - the Repo Man isn't actually here for me.
It's not me who has bitten off more than I can chew.
P.S. So how did a post from 2013 find its way to 2019? It's a long story, really.