Deb Sarah chats about Labor Day

082_Sarah_Pekkanen_4X6When 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.

13 Replies to “Deb Sarah chats about Labor Day”

  1. Good morning. Isn’t it remarkable how the mere change of the calendar from August to September can change our mindset (and work ethic!) Even when my kids were in summer services, I didn’t have the same drive to write. And I’m on of “those” women who didn’t take an epidural – 3X! By the third time it sure was tempting though! Maybe the pain prepared me for writing? 😉 Enjoy your Deb year!


  2. I hear you Deb Sarah! School’s back. The house is quiet (well, except for the damn banging that starts promptly at 7:15 EVERY MORNING by the early morning loving contractor who’s working on our house – bless his heart) and the unfinished proposal – and the two novels-in-progress – and I have a staring contest.

    It’s intimidating in a way writing the first book was not. I wonder why.

  3. Count me in as right there with all of you . . . second book on the agent’s desk, third book nagging at me from my laptop screen. And I sometimes find that when I have a long stretch ahead of me to write, I dither around much more than when I know I only have two hours. Why is that? It makes me crazy. So today, between the gym and the dentist (oh, and the vet) I WILL write 1000 words.

    And Eve, yes, the second book is often harder to write than the first. I think because the first was kind of a wish or lark or what-the-hell kind of endeavors. But with the second, everyone knows I can do it, and I feel so much more pressure to do it right.

  4. Kim — I’m impressed! And yes, I guess it does prepare you for the agony of writing (but childbirth doesn’t last as long).
    Judy, you make a good point. There is increased pressure with the second one — and often a deadline — plus if you’ve used up any autobiographical material, you can’t go back to that same well. Ah, well, the baby is sleeping in the car, so I’ve got my laptop on the front porch where I can see him… time to work!

  5. Yes, the second book is much harder!

    It’s hard to be productive and creative during the hectic, muggy summer months. I wonder if I’ll still live on a school-year calendar even when I’m an empty nester? During those years post-college and before I had kids in school, fall still felt like a fresh start, somehow.

  6. I expect you’ll get in your groove in no time. Long stretches are what I need…stuffing writing into an hour or two never works for me…best used for marketing Restoring Harmony instead.

    Have lots of fun with this new one! I love visualizing you sitting on the porch with the baby in the car sleeping. Lovely.

  7. You always crack me up. Am I the only Dad around here?

    Sometimes I like it when I’m so busy I can’t write. Then I have an excuse to not be productive. But once I’m in the groove, free time is a God send. So get in that groove girl.

  8. Thanks for the good wishes, everyone. And welcome Greg — there are five women writing this grog, but guys are always invited to join in!

  9. We homeschool, so we’re on the opposite schedule. Summer is when the kids sign up for all sorts of week-long, all-day, drop-off activities. Term time is back to hardcore round-the-clock parenting. Today: meeting up with their friends to act out life in a Victorian schoolroom. Fun! (But WHEN will I write my next chapter???)

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