A few summers ago I wrote the entire first draft of a novel. Now I’m not saying this novel is perfected. It’s not. In fact, this particular book is filed on my computer until I come up with exactly the right hook for the opening—which would happen sooner if I spent more time thinking about who I really want that main character to be. But I still call this novel my miracle book because I was able to write the entire draft while babysitting a five-year-old.
My grandson Erik watched Wonder Pets every morning while I sat beside him on the couch and pounded the keyboard of my laptop until I wore the lettering off two of the keys. For those who don’t know, the wonder pets are a guinea pig named Linny, a turtle named Tuck, and a duckling named Ming Ming. These pets escape from their cages at a preschool every day after the humans go home. The escapees then rescue baby animals stuck in trees, wells, mud, or wherever else baby animals can get trapped. For some reason Wonder Pets and their cute little song about teamwork kept Erik quiet and kept me writing. I couldn’t write through Ben 10, or Jimmy Neutron, or especially not Fairly Oddparents. Too many explosions, magic gone terribly wrong, and parents who couldn’t put on their own shoes without consulting their children. But Wonder Pets kept me glued to my novel, entranced by my characters and their own fictional adventures until the book was complete.
Sadly, Erik has outgrown Wonder Pets. I’ve tried to keep steadily working at my computer in hopes of producing another book this summer. But I can’t come up with a decent murder scene while babysitting a child and four Chihuahua puppies to the background noise of cartoon children busily outsmarting the adults in their little cartoon lives.
I tried to entice Erik back to Wonder Pets by pointing out that teamwork is a great trait for him or any other smart kid to learn. And Linny, Tuck, and Ming Ming are so brave, so caring, exactly the right animals for him to emulate. My grandson was quick to tell me that eight-year-olds do not watch baby shows. Then he asked why I would think he could possibly be interested in stupid TV animals that travel around in a flying boat while they sing silly songs. In fact, he now believes my brain is too old for me to “think like normal people” and he knows he will soon have to take care of me. He suggested I call the driver license office to ask if there are emergency licenses for kids in his situation, kids who need to drive their really feeble grandmas to the hospital if their brains shut down.
Monday I am not babysitting. Monday I will have the house—and the TV—to myself. I can stay upstairs in my office and I can write anything I want without one single interruption. I’ll probably work on the latest book for a couple of hours. If the writing flows, I’ll rejoice. If it doesn’t—well, Wonder Pets might be on.