Have you ever stepped off a roller coaster and been amazed to be on solid ground once more? That’s me this week—back on solid ground.
Once upon a time, I wrote a book in six weeks. The book in question was Beaumont #11, Failure to Appear, and I performed that literary feat out of necessity rather than choice. I had been writing a Brady book when the powers that be in New York changed their minds and said they wanted a Beaumont instead. They changed their minds about the book. Unfortunately, they did NOT change their minds on the book deadline, so I buckled down and wrote like crazy. Bill claimed that I never slept the whole time I was writing that book because I was still up working when he went to bed, and I was up working again by the time he crawled out of bed the next morning. It was one of those books that just came together.
Blessing of the Lost Girls turned out to be the same thing. I’m not ready to tell you the story about the inspiration for that book. I’ll do that closer to pub date so you’ll remember it, but the idea for that book had been cooking away in the far, dark reaches of my “Waring Blender” mind for about a year and a half. Even so I didn’t actually start writing it until June 16—of this year! I finished it this past Sunday evening—August 21st! (Also this year!). Then I put in three full days until 1 or 2 a.m. doing an in-depth grammar/spellcheck review/rewrite. Only now am I back on solid ground.
That’s usually what happens when I hit the banana peel. Time doesn’t matter. Sleep doesn’t matter. My only priority at that point is getting to the end of the story. And that’s one of the reasons I find being called ‘prolific’ so annoying. Putting in that many hours with that kind of total concentration isn’t a walk in the park. It’s work. I love writing books, but it’s STILL work! I put in countless hours of thinking and typing both before and after I hit the banana peel.
Today someone wrote to me saying that she had read a Goodreads Review of Kiss of the Bees, the second Walker Family book in which the reviewer apparently objected to the unnecessary “italicized stories and legends” in the book. She’s not the only reader to feel that way. In fact, when my first hardback editor read the manuscript for Hour of the Hunter, Walker Family #1, she told me on the phone, and this is a direct quote, “What you need to do is get rid of all that Indian stuff.” Excuse me??? As far as I was concerned, the “Indian stuff” was the whole point. My purpose in writing the Walkers was to make reservation life understandable to people who would never go there.
The five years I spent on the Tohono O’odham as a K-12 librarian were life-changing for me. I learned far more than I ever managed to teach. The Desert People were kind to me. In fact, when I left to go elsewhere, one of my Tohono O’odham friends gifted me with an owl basket, one I still treasure, and told me, “Judy, if you can’t make it with your own tribe, you can always come back here.”
Writing Blessing of the Lost Girls was a way of sending my heart back to that very special time. I loved being back in touch with the Walker Family clan—and with Joanna Brady’s too. I loved immersing myself once more in the Desert People’s origin stories and revisiting both the language and the gentle humor of the Tohono O’odham people. And somehow, in the process of telling that story, a number of things happened that I simply can’t explain. One moment I was telling how four quarrelsome brothers were responsible for Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The next moment, in fact, the very next paragraph, I found myself writing about the four José brothers who, in a previous book, had fallen victim to a band of drug smugglers. It was as though the separate parts of a French braid had suddenly blended together. That kind of experience is nothing short of magical.
But here’s the deal. I’ve written that book, but I’m not done with it by any means, There’s still a lot of editing to do, but soon—probably only a few weeks from now, it’ll be time for me to saddle up and do it again—time to figure out a new plot and write another book. And be prolific!
Right now, though, I’m out of that fictional world and back in the real one. For two months plus my head was stuck in April 2022, while the summer of 2022 not only came but is also on its way out. Other than writing the blog and answering e-mail, I’m officially on VACATION!
While I’ve been working, typing has become much more problematic because my fingernails have grown too long. According to my calendar app, my last manicure appointment at Andy’s Nails in Bellevue happened on June 6, and one of my Big Apple Red Gel nails is about to go south. For the last two weeks, I’ve been saying that as soon as I finished writing the book, I’d reward myself with a mani-pedi. Unfortunately this week when I called, Andy was totally booked up until 6:30 Friday evening. So today, when not using my keyboard, I’ve been wearing a band-aid on that finger—not because it’s injured but to protect that one loosey-goosey nail.
For several days, from Saturday to Wednesday, I barely checked my emails to say nothing of replying to them. By Wednesday morning there were 85 of them stacked up and waiting. That’s why I try to answer emails immediately after receiving them. If I don’t, they turn into a mountain.
Yesterday I went to lunch with a friend. That may sound like a very small thing, but in the aftermath of Covid opportunities to be “ladies who lunch” have been very few and far between. It was wonderful. I also brought home take-out for us to have for dinner—no cooking for Vacation Lady that day!
One made Wednesday of this week very special. On August 24, 1936, three days after my father turned twenty and six days before may mother turned 22, Norman Busk married Evelyn Anderson. For those few days Evie was only one year older than Norm and she could no longer be labeled a “cradle robber.” Their anniversary sparked a flurry of among me and my surviving siblings in which we shared memories of growing up in that very full house on Yuma Trail in Bisbee, Arizona.
Although our parents were barely out of their teens when they married, the “I do’s” they exchanged that day were good for a sixty-eight year run, and the seven children they raised together were and are incredibly lucky to have had Norm and Evie Busk as parents.
So today in every way has been a time for counting my many blessings.
I hope you don’t mind if I pass them along to you.