I wrote both of my books -- Mothering with Spiritual Power and It's Okay to Take a Nap -- as my part in a conversation with mothers like you. Hearing back from readers has been a wonderfully satisfying continuation of the conversation I started with those books. Thank you for your e-mails and letters. I have enjoyed hearing from you. You inspire me.
People often ask me, "What's it like to have a book published?" and I can honestly say that it's great. Writing books is what I hope to do for the rest of my life. I'll never forget the months leading up to the publication of my first book -- signing the publication agreement, seeing the cover art for the first time (authors rarely select the book cover), and then, opening the box containing my newly published books and holding a copy in my hands. It was definitely a powerful moment where a big dream became reality.
So, now that I have two books under my belt, readers are beginning to ask "When are you going to write your next book?" and while I cannot say for sure yet, I'm getting closer. There was a time when I wondered if I would write another book, if I would live to write another book. You see, the same month my first book came out (and I had just finished writing my second book), I was in the hospital having surgery for ovarian cancer.
I had always been very healthy but had felt increasingly weak and out of sorts physically. I knew something was wrong and it was. Curiously, I ended up not just with cancer but with some other serious health issues as well -- a severe back injury, a second surgery, etc., so the reality is that it has taken me a long time to feel in a condition to write again. Even once I started feeling better, it took a long time to regain a handle on my home, family and church responsibilities, but I'm there now. I'm feeling terrific overall. I am in remission from cancer and feel a growing sense of balance and well-being in my personal life.
And so, I have begun to write again, starting with this blog and continuing with magazine and newspaper articles and, yes, before long, I hope, another book. So, the next question readers ask is "What are you going to write next?" And I have to confess that I'm divided. I'm considering heading in two very different directions -- possibly another non-fiction book (something written for a wider audience) or maybe, just maybe, a novel.
Some years ago, I took a creative writing class at the University of Texas and the James Michener fellow who taught it encouraged me to turn my short story into a novella. I did not follow up on her suggestion, but she planted a seed and one I'm beginning to desire more and more to nurture.
So, I'm currently dabbling with a novel idea. I have the core characters, a plot, some scenes, and a few pages written. It's dramatic fiction with some humor and, of course, some drama. Very strong themes about love and loss, right and wrong, and the choices we make. I think the opening sentence would hook the reader and while I'm tempted to share it now, I think I'll wait awhile so I can let the creative juices marinate the possibilities a little longer.
As I write this, I find myself wondering about your creative life. What do you enjoy creating? I am inspired by my friends who quilt, garden, sing, play the piano, bake and pursue other creative paths. I'd love to hear your thoughts.