Thursday, July 03, 2008


By Nichole Giles

With a somewhat important quasi-deadline looming at the end of the summer, I’ve set certain goals for myself in working on my new book project. And since I started blogging twice a week for Your LDS Neighborhood, I also have those deadlines. Then there are the newsletter articles I try to submit as often as possible. Plus this blog.

Pshew! That’s a lot of writing. And it doesn’t include personal journaling or editing of other people’s work—which I do regularly. With all that writing to do, it’s no wonder no one in my family has clean clothes, or that my toilets need serious scrubbing, or that my kids have gone through a giant box of corndogs this week.

But everyone needs a break here and there. When my youngest two kids begged me to take them to the pool the other day, I could hardly tell them no. I mean, I did pay a small fortune to buy a family pool pass and I hate the idea of wasting money I could have spent on something else…like a trip to Hawaii…or at least some pretty jewelry.

Besides, I have a long reading list this summer, some of the books important for editorial research. You know, you have to know what style of writing an editor publishes before you send her your stuff. It’s logical and practical.

I digress. Actually, I love basking in the sun, and my poor brain just couldn’t work very well inside my air-conditioned house that day. So I packed a book, a printout of my rough draft, a pool chair and my sunscreen and we headed out to the pool.

After ten or fifteen minutes of lying in the sun, listening to the children laugh and play, and the water lapping at the edge of the pool, I had the spark of an idea. So, rolling over onto my stomach (it was really time to flip over anyway—gotta have a tan on both sides) I took a long sip of my drink, flipped through my manuscript and started writing in the margins. When the idea just kept flowing, I turned the pages over and filled up the back of one, two, then three pages.

As I lay there on a towel writing as fast as my wrist could move, one of my neighbors asked me from behind, “Where do you get all those papers to grade in the middle of summer?”

Well, I’d known this lady for several years, and I figured that by now she knew I’m not a teacher. So understandably, the question took me by surprise. “They’re mine,” I said.

“What is it?” She asked.

Again, I’m pretty sure she was aware of the fact that I am a writer. I’ve told her more than once. “It’s my book.”

“Your book?”

“Yes, my book,” I said, trying hard not to be rude, but continuing to scribble words as they flowed through my brain and out my fingers.

“You wrote a book?” She persisted.

I nodded, pausing in my writing to look up and smile at her. “I’ve written several books.”

“By yourself?”

Oh man, really? I sighed. Just so everyone knows, people aren’t actually capable of doing things like writing entire books by themselves, so they usually enlist the assistance of book fairies, who write the books, and then give the humans all the credit. “Yes, by myself,” I said. “It’s what I do.” I went back to my scribbling, drawing purple arrows from margins on one page to the back of another.

“Cool,” said the lady. “Where can I buy one?”

Now here’s the tricky part. Generally, when you tell someone you’ve written a book, they assume it’s been published and is in a store somewhere. They figure they’ll run out and grab a copy, just to be able to say they know someone who wrote a book—then they’ll have you sign it. Which would be fine. Except none of my books are published. Yet.

So I told her, “I’ll let you know. It might be a year or so, but as soon as one comes out, I’ll invite you to my book launch party.”

She shrugged, as if suddenly being let in on a secret, and walked away—probably thinking, “Yeah, sure. In your dreams.”

But on that particular day I really didn’t care what my neighbor thought. (Actually, come to think of it, I don’t care on any other day either.) I looked at the manuscript on my towel, all spread out and scribbled on in purple ink and my pulse raced and my heart fluttered.

It isn’t every day a girl can accomplish three things at once. Not only had I been working on my tan all afternoon, but I’d also broken through a short bout of writer’s block to write a marvelous new scene, and on top of that, I even had a conversation with my neighbor.

Hey wait, if I was to count taking my kids on an afternoon excursion that might actually be four things I accomplished. Wow, that is multitasking at it’s finest! Hallelujah!


Annette Lyon said...

Sadly, it doesn't get any better when you are published. One of Heather Moore's sons, after reading her first book, asked the same thing. "You WROTE that, Mom? By yourself? No one did it for you?"

I don't think my kids still "get" what I do. But I'm cool, because I can get them signed copies of Farworld and Fablehaven. (Cause THOSE are real books.)

Dan Olsen said...

I'm amazed that you could write at a public pool. I have to try and lock myself away from everyone else, with my headphones on to block out other noises just to write.

Kudos to you for being able to multitask so well.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks, Annette. I kind of figured that is the case. It's funny, though.

Dan, I am learning to write under all sorts of circumstances, because if I don't, well, I'll never get anything finished!

Thanks for your comments!