Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Writing Life

I mentioned earlier that some of my hobbies include playing hockey, coaching soccer, missing free throws on an eight-foot basketball hoop in my driveway… But one of the things I love doing most in my free time is writing.

Mostly I write stories with and for my kids. I've written stories about a boy who travels into other peoples' lives in his dreams. I've written stories about a tiny creature that torments people and loves apples. I've written a story about a time-travelling family that chases an errant tube of toothpaste across eight centuries.

But in the last few of years, I've started writing stories for adults.

It started with a sabbatical I took in 2004. I had to do something, so I decided to write a book (everyone does). I'm no good at academic writing, so I opted for a novel (like I'd be any better at that!). What I came up with is a novel about Abraham and Isaac – where Isaac has birth defects and Abraham hates him for it.

I'm writing this because that has become a huge part of my extra time. I find myself re-writing and re-writing and re-writing passages at free moments. I mean, who do you know who goes to lunch with a copy of a manuscript to edit? Every day.

I've recently started to approach agents to see if they might want to represent the book – and let me tell you, I'm getting an education in the publishing business. To be honest, the chances of any manuscript published are somewhere around 10,000 to 1. And 70% of those that get published sell fewer than 100 copies! So, I'm not doing this for the J.K. Rowling fortune.

I am doing it because I find it life-giving. I learn more about myself when I delve into the lives of fictitious (or partially so) people – for they all contain a part of me. I'm planning a new novel – again, maybe one that I'll try to get published (I have a masochistic streak, after all). It's about a youngish priest who has a stroke and ends up in the same nursing home he's been making pastoral calls to. Not exactly a murder mystery, but it gives me some cool things to think about.

So, there's the Writer's Life. You write and write and write. You research and research and research. You edit and edit and edit. And then you pull your head out of the word processor or notebook and think, "That was fun!" Tomorrow, I'll tell you a little more about Abraham and Isaac.