Jail Time, Poo, and Writing

Just let me say, I have never even scraped my knuckles with the law before. However, lately going to jail doesn’t sound like such a bad idea—as long as it doesn’t involve a lie detector test (more on that later). I know that must sound awful, but let me explain how I reached this level of desperation so you can avoid it completely.

It’s quite simple, really. It’s all because of this idea I got back in early 2008—the great idea to write a book. Not just any book, but a historical non-fiction book on a subject that was very close to my family and me. After reading a wonderful article by Derek Murphy recently, I now know why you should never, ever do this as a first book. Unfortunately, his awesome advice came about six years too late for me. Take heed, readers, take heed.

So anyways, writing this great book was my call in life. After all, I was finishing my senior year of college with three young children, a hard earned 3.87 (yes, missing summa cum laude by .03 still makes me mad), and moving every year as my real-estate involved husband flipped our houses. Even so, with me loving research and writing, it was a match made in heaven! Although, I have since learned the devil is awfully deceiving.

As my graduation approached and the ideas bounced around in my head, I excitedly awaited all the free time I just knew I would have—just me and my book. With my youngest daughter going into kindergarten soon, it sounded too good to be true—time to write was almost mine. It was so close I could smell it as I skipped across the green pastures of hope.

Turns out, there must have been some poo in the green, luscious grass because somehow my life plans were tackled to the ground…and I landed in it along with my plans. For with the fall of our local real estate market (our livelihood), I had to go out and use my hard earned education and get a job. I really, really didn’t want to get a job that would take up the few precious hours of free time (aka writing time) that had filled my dreams. However, I had no choice.

Scouring the newspaper, I found something that didn’t seem too bad and paid fair…a police dispatcher. Let the process begin, I thought. Wow! I never knew what dispatchers went through to get their jobs. As I interviewed and learned of the horrendous shift swinging schedules, including holidays, I knew I didn’t want the job. However, needs and wants are two very different things—I wanted to write, I needed to work. While the police took my fingerprints at the jail and questioned every human with whom I had ever had contact, I started researching and working on my book. Without a lot a time, I would take what I could get.

When I passed all my extensive police checks, I was taken in for the mother of all tests—the lie detector test. I wasn’t afraid. I had nothing to hide. However, being in the police station with a big, serious detective who doesn’t smile much is somewhat intimidating.

As I sat in the hard chair and he began strapping cords across my body and arms, I felt like maybe I was going to be electrocuted. Please, sir, all I want is a job.

However, that was only the beginning. At 5’2” and 115 pounds, I felt I didn’t meet the stereotype of big, burly, muscular lie detector tester. This was confirmed as the bands tightened around my body and sent throbbing pain to the areas being restricted. Maybe the detective was an EMT in a prior life and confused these bands with tourniquets. Feeling the blood pounding through my body, I thought I was going to explode—literally. Although I mentioned this to the no-messing-around detective, he wasn’t at all concerned and continued to ask me questions.

Wow! Good thing I am an honest person because I was only concentrating on making it out alive. It’s a true wonder anyone works at a police station after such questioning. I guess I may have gotten my name written on the school board in third or fourth grade?

After all the trauma of that lie detector test, I didn’t get the job. It turned out that I was just too family oriented. And to be completely honest, that was another reason I wanted to write. I wasn’t ready to be gone all the time and miss school parties and programs. I didn’t need a lie detector test to know that. Well, at least I had tried.

Interviews for my book, writing, and research could continue for a short time more until I found something else. I quickly got stuck in a familiar routine—live, work on my book, live, work on my book. Somehow, these two things don’t mesh together. You have to force it to happen as life flows in unknown directions. As I got my insurance agents license, as I taught nights until I could get enough day hours, as I moved from Kansas to Iowa, Iowa to Texas, and Texas to Oklahoma, as I had another child (almost ten years younger than the last), as the years passed, my book was still there like an unwanted, lingering, nagging hangnail. This is why I completely understand what George Orwell meant when he said, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
This explains a lot! It is the writing demon that makes me go in public without the comfort of make-up while quickly pulling back my hair in a sloppy ponytail, all for the hope of catching some writing time. It makes me put off the extra load of laundry, cook a late supper, and procrastinate all other projects until they become a priority. It is what makes me spend a sleepless night with the idea of never quitting—the idea of finally finishing.

This brings me to today.

With only two chapters left and the research mostly complete, I can once again smell success. This time I will dodge the piles of poo and sprint to the finish line. Wait. Speaking of poo, what is this? My not-quite-two-year-old son is showing me his feet. Praying that he has found some chocolate while playing behind me in the playroom as I pound away on the computer, I smell his feet. Yep, having just gone potty, I left him diaperless for a few moments as I wrote.

Taking a deep breath (but not too deep considering the circumstances), it is almost humorous because I want to write so badly. Once again, my book gets put on hold as I take him to the bathtub… and then on to scrub the carpeted floor of the playroom. Apparently, he doesn’t mind jumping in poo. This is when I think, I need a vacation!

Knowing that a vacation by myself is not going to happen, I wonder how quiet it is in jail. What could I do to get just one week in jail? Could I just go and ask if there are any free cells for the week, or poke at an officer and make an unoriginal doughnut joke? Wait a minute. Have I really stooped this low for some quality writing time? Whoa, I can see how my creative juices may have gotten a little too creative as I sit here and think about how scoring some jail time sounds like a good idea.

Then again, I’ve already been fingerprinted, interviewed, and passed a lie detector test, so I deserve just one week of pure writing bliss—no sibling rivalry, no chores, no whining, no laundry, no crying, no cooking, no expectations, no dishes, and most of all, no poo. I will finish my book one way or another, and if I can do it—so can you.

This is an article that I wrote for a contest. If I win, I get a free book edit. I really want to win. 🙂

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share from the contest page:

http://www.bookbutchers.com/jail-time-poo-and-writing/

UPDATE: I won this contest! My book, Captured by the Enemy, will be published by December. Thanks!