It was the summer of 2011. The country was reeling from a faltering economy and a no-good Congress that seemed unable to do anything besides bicker. I was panicked, about both the state of the country and our financial situation. It was 1.5 years since Greg had been laid off, and we were still without a regular income.
I do some of my best writing in the car.
Despite all this, Greg and I decided to take the kids on a rode trip from Cleveland to Bradenton, Florida. Bradenton served as an oasis where we could escape both the world’s problems, and have some space away from my parents. (We’d been living with them for one year now). We grabbed the kids and loaded up our Armada with food and DVDs for the 16 hour drive.
On our way home, we stopped in North Carolina to visit Greg’s sister, Barbara. Barbara is a voracious reader, and she had a stack of books for me to take home. She casually held up Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home.
“I don’t know if you’ll like it,” she paused. “It’s kind of fun.” I’d never heard of the book, but I was happy just to hold one. I hadn’t read much since Drew was born. Now that the kids were finally a little less demanding of my time, books, not just magazines and newspapers, were back in favor.
I devoured Janzen’s book. My story is nothing like hers, but her book inspired me just the same. In fact, I wrote the entire outline for my own book days after reading Janzen’s memoir. We’d spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws in Virginia and I had a rare 8 hours to write, as my children were tethered to their car seats.
When we returned to Cleveland I was elated. Though I’d always wanted to write a book, I never had any idea what I might write about. Now I had the idea, and it had come easily. The big question in my mind at that point was simple: could I successfully publish a book without being a celebrity or well known writer?