Whenever I visit schools, a question I’m sure to be asked is: Which is your favorite book you ever wrote? (What’s your favorite book you ever read? is also a big one). I can try to weasel out of it by saying what a wishy-washy person I am, and how I can never pick a favorite anything. Or sometimes I turn the tables and say, What’s your favorite book?
But most often I give the tried-and-true, official writer answer: Parents can’t ever choose a favorite child, and a writers are the same with their books. Sometimes I add that I don’t want to pick one and make all the other books jealous.
It’s a true answer. As writers we love this book because it’s our first-born, that one because it came so hard but we never gave up on it, yet another because it’s got the character who’s the most like us.
I’m thinking of this analogy now because I’m birthing a new book, one unlike any that has gone before. Writing it has been even slower than my usual sloth-like pace. This book has balked, then gone racing off in the wrong direction, then fallen into a sleep so deep I could barely rouse it. But now, at last, I’m pretty sure it’s found its feet. It’s on its way.
I’m thinking of it, too, because this last weekend we watched our youngest daughter run the New York City marathon. This was Nov. 6, a purely golden day in the city. In case you don’t know, a marathon is 26.2 miles. Repeat: 26.2 miles. This was the daughter who walked late. She was a plump, placid baby, third of three, surrounded by family and friends all too willing to pick her up and carry her about. She was slow to creep, slow to crawl, and for quite a long time saw no good reason to figure out walking, let alone running.
Yet here she was! And there she went, racing by, waving and blowing us kisses. (That’s her in the white t-shirt, and, in the left hand corner of the photo, that’s me, going batty for her.) Who’d have guessed she’d do this one day? How thrilling to think of the surprises locked up inside each of us. How wonderful the things we can do and places we can go, just putting one foot before the other, over and over again.