When I hear the words “Labor Day,” my first instinct is to scream “epidural!”
Oh, sorry – you meant the other kind of Labor Day?
I love Labor Day (the one unrelated to childbirth, I mean). This week, my two older boys head back to school, which means no more screams of “He bit me!” and no more burping contests at the lunch table (note to self: Maybe I should try feeding them more, so they don’t cannibalize each other). No more loading myself up like a suburban Sherpa with towels, snacks, bathing suits, water toys, goggles, and drinks and carrying everything to the pool, only to hear the cry, “Can we go home?” thirty seconds after I’ve finally gotten everyone organized and sat down on a longue chair.
I absolutely adore my funny, lively, cheeky kids, especially when I get a wee little break from them. As they buckle down to the rigors of elementary school this week, I’ll be firing up my computer and settling in to work on my second novel. Truthfully, it’s a little scary. When all three of my boys are in the house, it’s impossible to get any work done. I mean, there are burping contests to be judged! But come September, when the baby naps or goes for long walks with my sitter, and the house is quiet, it’s just me and the computer screen, grimly staring each other down like cowboys in an old Western movie while tumbleweed blows by.
Starting this week, there aren’t any excuses for me not to write anymore. Don’t get me wrong – I love writing (especially when I get a wee little break from it). But my relationship with writing isn’t unlike my relationship with my kids. I can’t imagine my life without it, think about it incessantly, and occasionally want to throttle it.
Like most writers, I’m insecure. I’m thrilled by the prospect of having long luxurious stretches of time to write – but I’m also nervous. What if my fingers stubbornly refuse to move across the keyboard? Or what if they create such criminally bad sentences that my agent changes her phone number to an unlisted one to hide from me? The shorter snatches of writing time I grabbed this summer came with the gift of lowered expectations. After all, knocking out a page here or there while the kids savored popsicles on our front porch wasn’t so daunting. But now I need to make sure all those pages flow together. I need to find the holes and rough edges in my manuscript, and patch and file and spackle until everything hangs smoothly together. After I put away the beach towels and rinse the sand out of my flip flops, I need to make a strong pot of coffee and sit down to get reacquainted with my characters.
And just like a kid starting his first day of school, I’m nervous and excited and hopeful, all at once, about what’s in store for me.