Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How Writing Novels is a Little Like Peeing Your Pants

As my daughter writhed on the floor of a public bathroom and I practically foamed at the mouth in an attempt to yell at her quietly, it got me thinking. Potty training is really similar to writing a book. Let me explain...

We often take two steps forward only to take one giant leap back.
Potty Training...Dry pull-ups for three nights in a row in addition to naps! M&Ms and stickers all around! Only to be followed by four accidents within an hour directly after that third dry night. That's a lot of poopy Dora panties, people.
And writing...We have a plot! We have characters! We have 20,000 junky words we must delete before starting again. That's just a lot of poop. Period.

You're overcome with an intense fear of leaving the house. 
Potty Training...Do I really want to explain to the librarian the source of that wet spot near the board books? How will I ever go to Target again after my child brings a whole new meaning to the "clean up in aisle 10" announcement? You mean I have to pack three changes of clothes, numerous plastic bags and a portable potty seat my sisters will make fun of me for buying because I'm afraid of the germs in public bathrooms?
And writing...I'm almost done with this chapter, then I'll go and brush my teeth and maybe shower. I only have a little more research to do and then I'll buy groceries. I'll refresh my e-mail for another half hour and then I'll clean the house. Wait, it's Thursday already and all I've done is dick around on the internet and write 1,000 words!?! $%&*.

When the going gets tough, you want to quit. 
Potty Training...As opposed to feeling sad or embarrassed after accidents, your child seems especially excited to pick out new underwear. Ask yourself for the millionth time why you didn't just buy boring, white underwear as opposed to Minnie, Elmo and Princesses.
And writing...You've written a chapter you think is especially engaging or exciting or perfect in every way. Writing partner or beta informs you this is your worst chapter to date. You wonder whether you should consider adding Minnie, Elmo AND Princesses. I mean, it couldn't hurt...

Oh what a thankless, thankless job. 
Potty Training...As the washer is running for the tenth time and you've scrubbed the same spot in the playroom for the eleventh, she decides to use the potty right when her dad gets home from work eliciting from him the whole, "This potty training thing isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be!" line.
And writing...As the dishes pile in the sink, you're on day three of your favorite black yoga pants and you haven't had a decent meal since Thanksgiving, your husband rolls home from work and asks, "When are you supposed to get that advance check?"

It's a slooooooow process. 
Potty Training...You've visited the same public restroom four times within the hour as child squeaks out a few drops of something or other and seconds later asks to do the same all over again and you can't possibly say no because the second you do, more pee than you've ever seen in your life will be dribbling down that tiny two-year-old's leg.
And writing...No, our book will not be available this Christmas, yes, it's a slow process. No, the second one won't come out a few months after the first, yes, they take time to edit. No, we haven't written all the books in the series, yes, they take a while to write.

So, the moral of the story is that the next time you're stuck on a tough chapter or constantly refreshing your e-mail waiting for responses from agents or editors, remember it could be worse. You could be potty training your 2-year-old at the same time. Either way things are guaranteed to get messy.

P.S.
If you're in the mood for some good old fashioned cyberstalking today check out our guest post on uber famous author Kimberly Derting's blog AND our interview with the FABULOUS Jen Daiker. We kind of feel like it's raining awesome today.

51 comments:

Tabitha Bird said...

LOL!!!!

Oh girls! I am potty training my toddler at the moment and wading my way through a new book. This post was PERFECT. Just PERFECT!

I am now thinking about adding ELMO and princesses to the plot. Like you said, it can't hurt :)

Khadija said...

0.0 i guess i'm potty training all over again...will the horror ever end? Well as long as i can wade my way threw and come out with my complete novel....very creative blog :) and VERY comical LMFAO!!!

Matthew Rush said...

Ack! What a terrible (but quite astute) analogy. It really is hard work it's just hard to convince people who don't already know that.

Cheree said...

LOL, I would never have thought of it that way. But, I can see how messy both things can get.

Megan said...

Hahahha love it! Very inventive:D

salarsenッ said...

Great analogy.

Leaving the house...I'm so glad it's not just me. Since school has been out, my kids have crabbed nonstop about the lack of food in the house. The other day, I told the six year old. "I'll go to the grocery store soon, honey. Just let me finish this," as my fingers tapped feverishly on the keyboard. He looks at my with the most banal glare and says, "You always say that."

Eh...does that mean I failed at potty training???

Jen said...

I think you really got this one down!!!! Excellent way to put it all in perspective for us!!!

Your interview is up on my blog today :) Just incase you want to peak in on comments!

Loretta Nyhan said...

LOVE this. So true. And clever.

Potty training is one of those traumatizing episodes in mommy life you eventually wipe clean from your memory (ha! pun intended!). Trust me, you won't remember this in a couple of years.

Sadly, I can't say the same for deleting 20,000 words. Ack!!!

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Fantastic, funny anaology! Thanks for the laugh :) I needed that!

Oh yes, I'm a fan of Go Fug Yourself!

Marissa

aspiring_x said...

wonderful post! what a great way to start a morning off... at least it gives me something to laugh at when i am greeted by the stink of my youngest's soaking wet pull-ups.

Jemi Fraser said...

I remember those days - not fondly - but I do remember those days :)

Good luck - it does happen!

Candyland said...

You pretty much nailed it! I'm peeing right now. Or wait...nevermind.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I used to wish the potty training fairy would tell me the exact date my child would be ready to potty train so we could skip all the frustrations. Now I wish the query fairy would come tell me who I should query first and save all that time and aggravation (not to mention the rejections). :D

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Brilliant! I wasn't sure you could pull off the analogy, but you did!

Plus, you've dredged up a few unpleasant memories. Oh, that McDonald's ball pit incident ... (shudder)

Jill Wheeler said...

You're all over the place! Can't wait for the potty-training stage. Not. I mean, I CAN wait. Oh, you know what I mean.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Ya, thanks for throwing me back into the nightmare that is potty training. I still have nightmares that my four year old will regress. I think it's the same with a manuscript. You keep waiting for it all to turn to crap no matter how much you think you love it. Excellent analogy, ladies.

Lenny said...

hi miss lisa and miss laura! this post got me laughing. i told my brother that the stuff he edits out on my writing is poop and he cracked up. im glad im not potty training a kid. doesnt sound like much fun for sure.
...hugs from lenny

Liza said...

Oh the memories. Oh the horror. Thank goodness I'm not doing both.

Elana Johnson said...

Oh my heck. Who knew these two things were so similar? No wonder I feel like crying most days. Ha!

E.J. Wesley said...

"As opposed to feeling sad or embarrassed after accidents, your child seems especially excited to pick out new underwear. Ask yourself for the millionth time why you didn't just buy boring, white underwear as opposed to Minnie, Elmo and Princesses."

I think you ladies have just created a billion dollar product: SHAME UNDIES!!!

Is your child overly excited when they've just soiled themselves? Try our new UNDIES OF SHAME! Never again will they look forward to picking out a new pair. Available in three non-attractive colors: Jaundice Yellow, BLAH Brown, and our new Houndstooth! We guarantee they'll wish they still had their old pair on, or your money back!

LOVED THIS POST! :0)

Larissa said...

You totally described my entire life. This in particular is my week thus far: "Wait, it's Thursday already and all I've done is dick around on the internet and write 1,000 words!?! $%&*."

Yeah.

My youngest finally decided she was ready for underwear after MONTHS of coaxing. And, yes, poopy Dora underwear are THE WORST!

Love you ladies!!!

Heather Kelly said...

OMG ROFL!!! My middle child would not poop in the potty after 6 months of serious potty training. My husband came home one night and told him that he would take him out for an icecream sundae if he pooped in the potty. In two minutes, my husband one-upped my 6 months of hard potty training labor.

I compare that with 6 months of grueling revision--struggling with certain plot points, only to have crit partner suggest the one obvious piece that fits everything together.

Plus ice cream sundaes pretty much solve any problem known to man.

I LOVED THIS POST!!!

Renae said...

This was too funny! My toddler was the worst at potty training! That was actually one of my goals of the summer...potty training and finishing my MS. I can also relate to the clean-up at Target only we were at the checkout.

Great post and soooo true!

Laura Marcella said...

Ahhhh, I'm so sorry for you! My hubby and I currently don't have any plans for children yet. And I'm really grateful for that, lol!

Good luck with the simultaneous messy potty training and writing!

Lisa Gail Green said...

I knew I loved you guys!! That was HYSTERICAL. And if I use your chart, I think I might be twelve and still wetting the bed (as a writer, well, you know).

Marsha Sigman said...

I remember potty training...it was hell.

Wait till they crawl into your bed and have an accident and then try to blame daddy.

Marsha Sigman said...

I would like to add that writing is exactly like peeing your pants and now I am headed over to Kimberly's blog because it IS raining awesome...but in your case I would make sure it was rain...I'm just sayin'.

Indigo said...

You took the paragraph 'and the going gets tough' from a chapter in my life. The writing part at least. I had that exact same scenario. I truly thought the chapter in question was killer...uhm, yeah right.
The wielder of the pen apparently disagrees. (Hugs)Indigo

Tahereh said...

hahahahahaha awwww i <3 you guys.

Katie said...

How do y'all think of this stuff?? You should be writers :) So funny. And great post on Kim's blog too! I feel bad now that when SF and I do it, we were planning on just saying, "go to Kim's" on our day to post. No duel posting for us lame belles.

Anyhoo... have a great day!

Nicole Zoltack said...

LOL Great post! I think writing a novel is going to be more fun than trying to potty train my son. That'll be coming up soon enough though, he's almost 2. *sigh*

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Okay, I don't have kids, and after this post I'm thinking I want to adopt the already potty trained kind when I get to that point.

But you're right about all the writing stuff. Especially the slow part. Seriously, I think publishing might be the slowest industry on the planet.

Simon C. Larter said...

Okay, I feel a bit gypped. I thought you were going to compare novel writing to peeing MY pants, as opposed to one of my children peeing theirs. This was much less fun than I originally envisioned based on the title.

Ah, well....

SWK said...

Hilarious. Here's a tip from a gal who has potty trained four kids. IF it's that bad, QUIT. I know they tell you never to do that but I've done it twice and none of my kids peed their pants in preschool so there you go. Meanwhile, the analogy is hilarious except that, unfortunately, you can't quit the ms. You can, however, make yourself a sticker chart. I recommend a martini prize instead of M&M's :) Stasia

PJ Hoover said...

OMG, great comparison! And I am again so happy both my kids are potty trained :) And I'm still writing.

Jonathon Arntson said...

If I wrote as frequently as I peed my pants, I'd have ten novels by now.

Carolyn V. said...

Hee hee hee! That's a pain. I was so glad when our baby was potty trained! I think I was so happy I cried.

Gail said...

sooooo funny, I think I peed my pants :-)

Robin Mellom said...

Hahaha! Have you been spying on me!!?? I am TOTALLY on day three of my favorite black yoga pants. ;-)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

you had me at pee

Icy Roses said...

Haha, your metaphors. They make me lol every time.

I am, like, vaguely horrified at the idea of potty training anyone. Hopefully maternal instincts kick in once you actually have a kid, because, ew. Pee.

Kim said...

Thank.God.those.days.are.over.here.

You brought it all back. It's something you don't want to relive. I totally toted a portable potty insert in my car for years so I could pull the car over at a moment's notice if one of the ballerinas screamed, "I gotta pee!"

Good luck, girl!

Mary Aalgaard said...

I had to potty train twin boys. They thought it was funny to "pee down my leg." That must be like working on two manuscripts at a time. Double the torture double the mess, double the fun.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

OMG that is hilarious!! Ah, there is no yellow puddle over there.

MaDonna Maurer said...

OK, just have to say, This.Made.My.Day. I laughed so much and needed to do that. I can't even write why, but definitely had to do with potty training...and the analogy is so fitting with where I'm at in the writing as well. Just perfect! Thanks!

elissa said...

hahaha awesome post! having just completed my second (and last, I hope) bout of potty learning, I can so relate to this analogy!

Dara said...

What a clever and accurate analogy!

Annette Lyon said...

You've cemented my gratitude in that I am years past potty training.

But every time I sit down to write, I'll be thinking about pee or Elmo or Dora.

(I swear, the timing thing is what so many people don't get about publishing. I turned in my chocolate cookbook MS the first week of October. People were seriously asking if they'd be able to buy it for Christmas gifts. Um, sure . . . NEXT year.)

Holli True said...

Bahaha! :) Love this!! It is so true! I am grateful to only be writing my WIP right now and not also potty training. I have 2 little ones, so I've already been down that road twice. :) Best of luck on the potty days- they can really test your patience!

Julie Musil said...

Oh, this post brought back so many potty training memories. I remember bringing a bag full of clothes too, and setting the timer to visit the potty every fifteen minutes. Messy is a great way to put it, but it WILL get much easier!

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