In the meantime, I wanted to talk a little about how much I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the book. It’s funny and poignant, sad at parts, but that plucky, you-can-get-through-this sort of sad. The book details Kelly’s exploits retracing the Ingalls family’s journey west, at the same time exploring Kelly’s relationship with a man she refers to as “My Manly” and her desire to figure out what it is she wants out of life.
Part of the reason I was so pleased that this book was so good was because I remember, a couple of years ago, talking to Kelly about the book while she was writing it. This was not long after I had met Kelly, not long after I found out that Kelly’s first fiction publication—that’s right, her very first—had appeared in no less than the Gettysburg Review. (That same story ended up being nominated for a Pushcart, and it got her noticed by an agent!)
I remember it very clearly: a small group of us were having lunch at Casa Nueva—a highly overrated restaurant in my town, which serves food that kind of, sort of, if you really squint your eyes and hold your nose, resembles Mexican food—and Kelly was talking about working on the book. She really should be home writing, she said, but she knew the second she got home she would probably just curl up on the couch with the cats and take a nap. She was joking around, of course, but the sentiment behind the joke rang true: sometimes she just didn’t feel like writing. She had to get this thing done, she told me, because she’d already lined up a publisher for it. Still, there were definitely days when she had to force herself to get to work.
Cut to a little over two years later: the book is out and it’s fabulous. The work she did definitely paid off, and based on the number of Amazon book reviews it’s already garnered (my book’s been out more than a year and only three people have reviewed it on Amazon), I think it’s selling pretty well. And as I was reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about that day at Casa, how she hadn’t felt like writing. She hadn’t felt like writing, and yet when she sat down and forced herself to do it anyway, this lovely book is what resulted.
I find it all very reassuring, don’t you? ALL writers have to force it sometimes, even the really, really good ones like Kelly. Nobody walks around in a constant state of inspiration. Some days we stare at the blank screen for what feels like hours, willing the words to come. Others, we have trouble even getting that far. But it’s the writers who sit in front of that computer anyway who eventually produce excellent books like My Life as Laura. We should all take a page out of Kelly’s book.
Sorry, kitty, no nap for me today. I’ve got work to do.