It is circa 1993. I am living in Evansville in a parsonage. I have no home office. However, Becky does allow me to set up my computer (a Tandy 1000 that is by this time seven years old, has two floppy drives, and a monochrome monitor) in the basement . . . a dark, dank, foul place crawling with crickets. The place is also crawling with children.
My daughter is all of four years old, my son is a baby in arms. Still, that is how I write. I write down in the basement holding one kid, typing with the other free hand. I write through screaming, crying, puking, madness, mayhem. I develop immense powers of concentration, which I still possess to this day. As I write, I shut out all distractions: sirens, ringing phones, people knocking on doors, a wife screaming at me to "please feed that kid before he suffocates!" Heck, I didn't even know I was holding a kid. Thank God, I wasn't breast feeding at the time.
But you have to understand, I actually write a novel this way. A 100,000 word novel. Big sucker. Massive tome. I wrote it in the basement, rising early in the morning, writing late into the night, while holding children in my lap (okay, I kiss them, too, because I love them). I change diapers without trying to get gunk on the keyboard.
And then one day my wife tells me, "You'd better do something with that book. I'm tired of seeing you write down there in your little dungeon, wondering if the kids have been fed, wondering what time you are coming to bed."
I remind her that I have been to bed with her at least twice in the past four years, as evidenced by the children.
"For the love of God," she says, "get yourself an agent and see if you can get that book published!"
I don't know if this is her way of saying she needs/wants me, or if this is just the crotchety-old wife-now-mother syndrome speaking, but I agree. I'll get an agent! (Continued next blog)