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I'm Not a Sequel; You're a Prequel!

That's what my new manuscript, The Grove of Thorismud, is telling Briars and Black Hellebore.

It's also what I feel like my five-year-old daughter is telling me all the time, but I don't mind.

As a creative person, I've learned to trust that the most interesting content springs from my unconscious mind, or sometimes my uterus, and when that content stands up to take charge, it is generally in my best interest to discipline my conscious mind to switch into support mode, nurturing and feeding the creativity that needs to flow.

Altar cloth by Nux Gallica: crayon, paper, ribbon, tulle, glue. Depicting a selkie fetus inside of her mother's womb.

As a mom, I fully get behind what Khalil Gibran wrote "On Children." And if you like to talk about your books as your "babies," it's useful to read that poem and think about it metaphorically. If you want to launch your work far, you must create a steady, well-practiced foundation and be ready to let that arrow fly.

I never think of characters or stories I've written as "disobeying," just as I don't often frame my five-year-old daughter's resistance to my plans as insubordination. I call that leadership!

So when The Grove of Thorismud did battle with my impulse to write a new book in a different genre, and I let it sit in the pilot's chair, and it churned out a 4.5-page chapter summary and an opening sentence, I rewarded it with my full attention.

Since then, I've written a solid eight pages of the first chapter, with a clear protagonist, antagonist, and conflict presented on page 1. The voice and style are strong, flowing easier than my first book did (of course, because I have all that muscle memory from my brain to my fingertips now).

And meanwhile, I'm letting five-year-old Nux Gallica play drill sergeant with me when it comes to our creative play together. I'm in charge of the boring stuff like mealtimes, bedtime, and when to go shopping. When Nux wants to decide the fun stuff like what shape noodles to buy or what the card game's rules are going to be or how I'm supposed to participate in arts and crafts time, I fully support her tiny dictatorship.

Yesterday, after subjecting me to an introvert/germ-phobe's nightmare of a child's birthday party at a bounce house venue that smells of dirty socks, crammed in among several other simultaneous birthday parties, in which all the children are dressed as Minions and fed pounds of cake and ice cream, I came home and needed to just. Sit. Down. For a few minutes.

So Nux handed me a stack of index cards and a pen and told me to draw her some pictures to color.

Now, Nux has a fire-hazard-sized heap of coloring and activity books that spans two rooms of our house, but I had no energy to argue.

I also had no mental bandwidth to think of what to draw. "Something, Mama," is a totally lame prompt, by the way. So I told my frontal cortex to go take a nap and called up my scary little homunculus-id-Freudian-demon or whatever horror gets strapped down in the dungeons of my subconscious when I have to be in public with crowds of God-fearin' parents for hours on end. I regurgitated the spirit, and I passed along the assignment to draw "something," and so it did.

It's a good thing Nux is not easily frightened.

She's not disturbed. Just now she told me she is building out of Legos: a canopy bed for a baby megalodon.

Sometimes, being a mom is like tripping on LSD in between those sweet two-hour blocks of Catholic preschool time, when I get to double down and NOVEL! NOVEL SO HARD!

I hope this somehow imbues my writing with some kind of special sauce.

Now it's playtime for Mama in the Grove of Thorismud!


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