ACKNOWLEDGING THE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

In the months leading up to signing with my agent, I got in the habit of flipping to the acknowledgements page of middle-grade books to peruse who the author thanked and how fervently they thanked them.  I didn’t realize how much the tender, earnest gratitude other writers pledged towards their supportive spouses and children was making me sweat until I saw the acknowledgments page of Scott Seegert’s VORDAK THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE. Here, after dedicating the book to his own glorious self, Vordak refuses to commend the contribution of others to its publication, observing, “A herd of bison would have been more helpful.”

20110321__BISON-ART-DENAp1

I felt a thrill of YES and VORDAK, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS ME.  Then I found a quote from Franz Kafka telling his fiancée, “You once said you would like to sit beside me while I write. Listen, in that case, I would not be able to write at all…one can never be alone enough to write…” Oh, Franz, I hear you, too, dude.

 

My husband and I worked out a plan last summer whereby he’d be the family breadwinner, and our kids would be the family bread-eaters, and I would try being the family writer. In planning, however, we failed to acknowledge that I already have a couple of full-time jobs managing our household and parenting two intense little people who want nothing more than to spend their day talking to me, negotiating with me, playing with me, squabbling near me, and lying down on various parts of me and asking me to read to them. In addition, my husband is pretty introverted and many days, I’m his only social outlet.

We’ve tried various methods of preserving a quiet, protected daily writing space and time for me.

writer at work

 

I’ll be frank, though: bit by bit, I’ve been disintegrating. I’ve always been unusually sensitive to disturbances in the Force around me, which my doctor is now calling generalized anxiety disorder. When I’m out of balance, I develop really odd anxieties. (One fun example: after my twins were born, I developed a fear of my home’s mailbox.)

mailbox_lizard

And I’ve found that even with a regime of medication, supplements, meditation, and therapy, if I don’t get enough alone time, I’m neither a good writer nor a good member of our family. Instead, I hide in bed and fantasize about:

  • digging a moat around and bricking up the doorway to our home office
  • finding a way to become the sound-hoarding Soundkeeper from THE PHANsoundkeeperTOM TOLLBOOTH
  • inventing reverse hearing aids that allow you to turn silence up or down as needed (better than ear plugs, we’ll call ‘em Hearing Thwarts, $19.99 per pair plus shipping and handling. Stock up for the holidays!)

It’s not easy. Nevertheless, when my editor asked for my own dedication and acknowledgements pages, I did thank my family. It’s understated, but it’s there. While there’s a mailbox-fearing creature ready to hijack my hippocampus pretty much whenever, I’m not a jerk nor an evil overlord at heart.

It’s worth noting, however, that my kids’ school summer vacation begins tomorrow. So if you hear I’ve disappeared, please do me a favor – don’t tell the authorities that I’ve likely taken my laptop to sit amidst the nearest herd of bison to get some peace and quiet.


Christina UssCHRISTINA USS has never found a frilled lizard in her mailbox, but there’s always a first time. Her debut novel THE ADVENTURES OF A GIRL CALLED BICYCLE comes out Spring 2018 from Margaret Ferguson Books/ Holiday House. Tweet her if you know of a herd of bison seeking a Writer in Residence @christinauss or drop by http://www.christinauss.com.

 

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10 Comments

Filed under Anxiety, Families, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

10 responses to “ACKNOWLEDGING THE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  1. katieslivensky

    Love this, Christina! It’s so easy to get overwhelmed. Well-meaning people (and not so well-meaning people) can’t possibly understand just how much quiet space and time we need to get stuff like this DONE. I don’t have kids or a husband, but this is a very relatable post nevertheless!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am such an acknowledgments reader! I can’t wait to read yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear ya, Christina. First thing I read is the acknowledgements section. And I can’t write unless I’m in absolute silence, meaning no human voices, which includes family, the tv or music. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for that heartfelt post. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christina Uss

    Thanks, everyone – good to know I’m not alone!

    Like

  6. When you put out your line of Hearing Thwarts, I’ll take a pair for every room in my house, one for the bus ride to work, one for the office, and one for everywhere else. Please and thank you. 😀
    (Just don’t forget to thank the buffalo in your acknowledgements. I hear they get pretty annoyed if you leave them out)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christina Uss

      I’ll add you to the Hearing Thwarts mailing list. And thanks for the tip about the buffalo – didn’t know they were so touchy!

      Like

  7. Hoping you find your island of peace and solitude – a room of your own. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your journey! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. mariagianferrari

    I LOVE reading acknowledgements! In fact, I sometimes begin with them, and then re-read them after finishing the book :). And I can’t get enough alone time. Snores of dog, Becca, are acceptable 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. With my five kids, I found it helpful to look on their childhoods as the research portion of my career, and the writing came when they were all in school. We can have it all, but maybe not all at the same time. The book world will be there long after their childhoods have flown away.

    Liked by 1 person

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