It all started like this…
See… I was doing some housecleaning. Seriously. OLD housecleaning. Pre-kids housecleaning. Uhm, sacred drawer of intimacy housecleaning. Yeah. That sort of housecleaning. Anyway-- I threw "stuff" away, like you do, and looked across the street.
Now, we live across the street from a church with a little private school attached. The faith is uberconservative, but the people there are very nice. When Big T started school, he, of course, went with whatever special ed program available-- the bus came and got him and then brought him home. WhenChicken started school, our district had not yet started open enrollment, and our neighborhood sucks. We didn't want to put her on a school bus to be taken to a crappy school. You had to see her, too-- I don't have any pictures on the computer from that time, but, well… she was tiny. She had a growth spurt in her Freshman year, but for the longest time, she was shorter than average, tinier than average, and she had the tiniest, most piquant little heart shaped face, dominated with big brown eyes. I couldn't send my baby away! But I had a job, too. So we sent her across the street, to the nice women who always wore dresses and never cut their hair.
Of course, there were some drawbacks. For one, they didn't let the kids read about magic, and that's where I live. Seriously-- no Harry Potter. No C.S. Lewis. Nothing but watered down bible stories and stock curriculum. For another, most of their teachers barely had a BA degree. Now, for the littler kids that doesn't matter particularly-- if you are good with little kids and you have a curriculum, you're doing your job. But as Chicken grew, we were doing more of the teaching at home--value-wise, too, because these weren't our people. We had run ins with teachers who wouldn't let her go to the bathroom until it was too late (because it was a CHURCH school, and you had to be DISCIPLINED) and run-ins with teachers who didn't believe that she was really trying in penmanship (in which she got a grade, believe it or not.) I had to go in there and physically write something to show the teacher that A. She came by it rightly, and B. We didn't really give a shit how good her penmanship was, it didn't indicate how smart she was. By the fourth grade, we'd had enough church school, and the district had opened up anyway, so we sent her to the local school for a year, and then to T's school for a blissful, two-year period wherein they both attended the same middle school.
Anyway-- so I know the church school across the street.
And there I was, looking at the kids playing in the brown field (like us, they let their lawn die during this horrible, hot, dry, winter) and throwing away, uhm, unmentionable items.
Oh gees. These people freak out over Harry Potter. What would they do if someone knocked over my trash-can full of vibrators?
I came back in and got on the computer (where I live and breathe) and Tweeted/FB'd that very sentiment: "Just threw away old "unmentionables". We live across from a church--I hope nobody knocks over my trashcan."
And, like it does on social media, that little comment got seen. By my publisher. Who loved it. Adored it.
Asked me very prettily to write it. Even put Mary-my-Mary on CC to talk me into shoving it in front of the queue.
I really can't ever say no to Elizabeth, ever. This was no exception.
Shiny! was written in good fun-- and nothing but. There is a lot of me in there, if you know where to look, but it's the happy me, the philosophical me, the me that bounces back and doesn't wallow. (Yeah, she's here!) I sort of love Will, a big, doofy, good-willed everyman, who tries his best and takes his time and who is, in all his generous humility, a superstar to the people who love him. I love Kenny too, snarky, sarcastic, a little bitter, but basically whole and sound, and so very willing to open up to Will's sweetness and drink it in. There are no tragedies int his one. No deep dark secrets. No hidden wellspring of epic pain. I'll ask my angst-whores to be patient-- Blackbird and Beneath the Stain will rip their hearts out, but Shiny! is just that. Happy. Shiny. Sweet.
I hope you all enjoy a little bit of sunshine, at the end of what has been (for some of you) a long, bleak winter.