Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mind Over Babe

By Amy

Look at this guy. His name is Babe. Wouldn't you love to wrap your fingers around his fat little belly and squish the stuffing out of him? Go for a walk and show him off to the neighbors? Sit quietly while he snores in your arms? Me, too.

We adopted him over the weekend. Completely impulsive. My family went out for a bike ride, saw him in a neighbor's yard rolling around with his litter mates, and my husband, inspired, bought a lottery ticket. When they arrived home, my husband told me we had to adopt one. Too much money, I said, but if you scratch that ticket and we win, sure. We won. If you've been reading this blog long enough, you know how I feel about signs. Just look at the little guy.

So what does Babe have to do with writing? Chair glue. I wanted nothing more than to wallow in puppy heaven yesterday, but I forced myself to work on my manuscript. There are always reasons to not write. Life -- and let's be honest here, especially a woman's life -- is filled with demands on our time: family, work, volunteering, squishy puppies. If you're a writer, if you want to create something meaningful with the intent of getting it published, you had better find time each day and glue yourself in that chair. No excuses, because no one cares if you have one anyway.

Why? Few in your life expect you to finish writing that first draft and, trust me, no one cares to hear about your months-long revision process (that's nice, but did you hear about...) Your phone won't ring with friends calling to see how that query letter is coming along (write tomorrow, let's go out for a drink now). Friends outside of writing have no idea literary agents even exist (why don't you just self-publish like my friend?). When you get an agent, s/he won't badger you to finish revising that manuscript s/he was gushing about when s/he signed you (your name is? and you're calling regarding?), s/he'll just move on to the newer, more promising client. Really, no one cares if your manuscript ever becomes a book -- no one cares but you. So why do it?

I asked myself that same question over the weekend. While sitting in the bleachers at my son's baseball game, a foul ball headed for the stands. I made a joke to the other parents about the parallels between it and John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany." They all stared back with blank expressions. Not one person had ever heard of the book or even John Irving. *Sigh*

That chair glue is for me, it has to be. I want to write a book, a good book. I want it bound by a publishing house in New York and held in the hands of the few readers who care about words. I want to evoke a connection with my reader. If it doesn't happen, those around me won't care particularly. They'll offer an ear, listen for a day or two, and then forget. But I'll care. I'll care for a lifetime.

I glue myself to my chair each day because I have expections of myself -- and I plan to exceed them. Not even Babe can compete with that. Well, maybe just a little.


Anonymous said...

Babe is SO cute.

When we got a puppy, and she was still little, I'd hold her in my lap while she was napping and do my writing then. Perfect chair glue. Now she's a little too big, dang it. But she sleeps right behind me.

kristen spina said...

I feel like you were inside my head today. I have been pushing the drive, the desire aside for so long and now as it is refusing to be ignored, you write this—which says it all, captures it perfectly and is a wonderful follow up to Lisa's post from yesterday.

When I read the words so generously written and shared on this blog, I feel as though I'm a fly on the wall of a fabulous salon, the place where all the literati hang out and talk shop. And I think, yes, this is where I want to be.

My chair glue, however, simply pales by comparison.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Amy, I would love to have him on my lap, but he's already 23 lbs. Soon at my feet, but for now he's too much of an adorable distraction to have in the same room. What are you writing?

Kristen, you have to write a book because I love your blog so much. Really well written. Don't ever push aside your dreams. Would you ever tell your son to give up on, say, tae kwon do?


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Babe is adorable. I'm sure he's quite a distraction. But keep yourself glued in the chair--I'm sure you find, like I do, that the writing comes easier when it happens daily (for me, 9-11 every morning). When I get off that schedule it's amazing how quickly I get rusty.

And, I would have appreciated the John Irving comment.

Melissa Amateis said...

What an adorable dog!

It's incredibly difficult to enforce the whole "butt-in-chair" rule when you work full-time and have so many other demands on your time as a mother. There's been lots of moments when I give in to the desire to lay on the couch and just sit there, staring into space, knowing I should be working, but not having the brain power or the ability to even move.

But in the end, it's all about me - I'm the one that has to not make excuses, go sit in front of the computer, and work. No one else has the ability to make me do it.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Judy, I wish you'd been at the game. I agree that writing often, for me it's usually Monday-Friday unless I'm in a crucial scene, is very important.

Melissa, you're absolutely right. A million reasons not to write, and but none of that matters when you're compelled to create. Good for you.


Larramie said...

That darling picture of Babe was meant for this post, Amy. We probably all felt an instant reaction/connection to him and that's why you (along with your fellow writers) remain glued to the chair. A need exists to create that same type of instant connection with only words. And, when you succeed, others will care too.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Larramie, Babe and I have an understanding now. He's asleep at my feet, snoring away.Yes, a connection with words. It's easy to call to mind the ones that have embedded themselves into our psyches.

Off to sit in glue and unplug the Internet.


Holly Kennedy said...

*giggle* LOVE the comment about John Irving and all those blank expressions!

And Babe? Oooooh, he is truly adorable. I have a Newfoundland dog and he was close to this cute as a puppy, too.

Good for you, planning to exceed your own expectations. I feel the same way, although there are days when I have to push myself real hard to stay positive and focused.
Have a great week!

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

That chair glue is for me, it has to be. I want to write a book, a good book. I want it bound by a publishing house in New York and held in the hands of the few readers who care about words. I want to evoke a connection with my reader. If it doesn't happen, those around me won't care particularly. They'll offer an ear, listen for a day or two, and then forget. But I'll care. I'll care for a lifetime.

Beautifully said, Amy! The whole post is wonderful. I and love your squishy little Babe. I could not resist and boy, talk about providence!

Here's to a lifetime supply of chair glue. I really need some, too. My butt has been all over the place the last few weeks, but really in my own desk chair. I had finals to grade and job interview stuff to complete, doctor's appointments, soccer practice, baseball practice. But now...2 weeks of mostly free morning, so I darn well better use it. Thanks for the inspiration to paste my buns to the chair!

Mary Ann

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Holly, when there are 50 people showing up to hear you speak, I can't imagine it's very hard to stay positive. Though the journey continues, you've arrived to a certain point where you can take pride. And Newfies are far too adorable.

Mary Ann, isn't it amazing how we can place so much importance in everyone else's needs, not so much are own? I'll send you a bottle of my glue, you deserve it!

Lisa Marnell said...

SOOOO cute, Amy.

By the way, on cold winter days my canine friend, Maggie, helps me stick to that chair. When she's by my feet (which she always is) I'm with a friend and it's easy to stay put.

Lisa M

Kristy Kiernan said...

Okay, I am quite sure that the entire post was as well-written, thought-provoking, and amusing as your posts always are, Amy, but forgive me, I simply couldn't get past that ADORABLE Babe!!

Congratulations to the family, may you have as much love and laughter with Babe as we have with Niko. Give her a good squeeze for me.

(And I did read the post. Lovely, as always...)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

What a lucky dog Babe is!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Lisa, we should get Maggie & Babe together for a puppy playdate!

Kristy, who cares what I have to say, look at that face! So where are you with Catching Genius? Fourth printing? Fifth?

Hank, thank you, he's getting lots of love, not so much from the cats, though. Less than a month until Prime Times' debut. Has everyone pre-ordered?

Lisa said...


Your post went straight to my heart. We all have unique reasons for doing what we do and I accept that nobody can know or understand the shape my dreams take, what kind of writer I want to be, what drives me to write or why. I only know that the more sure I am of these things, the more driven I become to make them real. When words like yours appear -- like a sign -- I am faced with the happy knowledge that I'm really not alone in this. Thank you.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Oh, I'm a conduit for a sign! That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me, Lisa. Thank you.

Trish Ryan said...

Babe is so cute I'm not sure I can get back to writing, and I've never even met her in person!

Congrats on the puppy AND the writing. I've found my little mutt is a tremendous help when I'm writing - she makes sure I leave the house at least twice a day and is always up for a walk when I need to get away from it all for a few minutes and remember what it is I'm writing about. Dogs are on the top five list for a writer's best friend!

(And Owen Meany is one of my favorite books ever - your friends need to get to a bookstore and earn John Irving some money, quick!)

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Thanks for the good thoughts, Trish. While I'm having fun with Babe, the cats, not so much.

Therese Fowler said...

I had just the amount of glue to get me through proofreading this week, but am sadly behind on my wip and my blog visits!

Please send a case for next week.

And I am "into" signs a bit, myself. Welcome, Babe, I'm sure you'll make a terrific muse! (His influence has already forced you into your chair, see?)

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Therese, anyone who can sit down long enough to write then revise, and proof a 116,000 word book doesn't need chair glue from me. I'm sooo excited to read Souvenir. Honestly, I can't wait. Please let us know as soon as we can pre-order.