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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

Some Books
I'm In...

Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Wherein my son goes to camp and I become a recluse

Henry is finishing up his month of summer camp, and meanwhile I've been writing nonstop and feeling increasingly weird as I forget to do regular human things like bathe and seek out sunlight. I met my new downstairs neighbor the other day and before saying hello I circled twice and tried to smell her hair. Now the landlord's mad at me. How else would I know whether she is Friend?

No, but seriously, I said hello like a regular human. I even asked her afterward, "Was that like how a regular human does?" and she assured me I did very well. Why am I going on about my downstairs neighbor? I have spoken with several other humans. I say hello to the guy next door who's always outside smiling at people (what is he planning). I exchanged niceties with the pharmacist when my prescription was not yet available. I even had lunch with Liz and I didn't once bark or hide under the table! I do things!

Henry actually had to come home for a few days. He got a case of swimmer's ear that wouldn't go away with the usual ear drops, and the camp infirmary wanted him checked out by his doctor. It felt like cheating, and it was hard to return him. As soon as he went back to camp the infection reoccurred, so we got more prescriptions sent over and now I'm getting daily emails about the "slight redness" and "mild swelling" alternating from one ear to the other. He's not in pain, though, so you know what, camp nurse? I think you need to stop paying so much attention to my son's ears. I think you need another hobby and/or fetish. (Dear nurse, if you're reading this, I am glad you're paying attention. Never mind me. I am silly.)

As you may or may not know, depending on how much attention you've been paying around here, I've been writing a novel. I'm in the throes of what I can confidently say is a draft that is almost near what the final product may be. And yet it might be light-years from that. I have not a clue. It's easy for me to help other people with their work and yet I am utterly lost in the morass of my own. Is this is part of the process? I feel like the story is a constantly moving target and every time I think I have the main theme nailed down, I edit accordingly and then I realize, no, the focus should be on this other thing, and then I think I've made it all hopelessly complicated and I should put it in a cupboard and set that cupboard on fire and bury the ashes and then salt the earth. NOTHING SHALL GROW WHERE ONCE THESE WORDS EXISTED.

When Henry was home, he advised me to finish this thing, right quick. "Just pick one of your drafts," he said. "You've worked hard enough. It's good. I looked at it." My son, I should add, has written two novels (I am not kidding you about this; I would never joke about such a thing) and has two more in the works. His creative output puts mine to shame. Parents of smaller children: know that someday in the near future, you may find yourself realizing that your child is your role model. It is strange and exhilarating.

Anyway, he's right, in some respects. I need to stop noodling, bite the bullet, share this imperfect thing with a few trusted readers. Otherwise I suspect I'm going to keep getting weirder and farther away from the end point.


Reader Comments (22)

That is awesome, Alice. About the novel, I mean. I look forward to reading it. (You were so kind to my novel, I feel like maybe our novels could be friends.)

August 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Napolitano

Thanks, Ann! I think maybe your novel would be the kind, tolerant babysitter to my novel, which is maybe a little overly excitable but totally well-meaning.

August 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterAlice

Welcome back! You've been missed!
And can't wait to read your novel!!!

August 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

It's a scary thing to entrust a novel to people, but it does help you get much needed perspective. I'm really grateful to all my test readers. You can do it! Bite that literary bullet!

August 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKorinthia

I am already in love with it. Let me read. I need my mind to be lost somewhere. xo

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

Honestly, I find comfort in this. I recognize you as Friend.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngie Mizzell

As one who has been threatening (myself, mostly) for years to write a book of some sort, but who has yet to actually do the, um, writing part, I am green with envy. Or maybe I'm just green from those muffins my son made all on his own yesterday. Either way, I'm envious. And psyched for you. :)

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaddy Scratches

Oh, yes, if you're hunting the theme in a way that's elusive then absolutely send it right away and without further spell checking to your trusted readers! They will (probably) help pin down that theme and it will serve as a break from you poring over the story so you can come back at it with fresh (figurative) eyes. I'm excited for and envious of your trusted readers! They're going to have fun.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKizz

My first novel is already in mad love with you. My second novel could use your help. Want to play writer's workshop? I'm trying to convince Kyran, too. Congrats on getting to a draft you like!

My second novel is in the really ugly first draft stage where I need someone to just highlight all the places they get bored so I can change them before I waste time making the sentences good. If I cut where I already spent time on that, then I cry a lot. I've been having to set the timer on the iPad and slog through half on the printout and half in a notepad, and it's so ugly right now.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRita Arens

I loved this article.. it was just so enjoyable

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelody

Congratulations on your progress! You can be my role model, and then Henry can be your role model. We can be like a set of Matroyska dolls.

My fifteen-year-old has a musical, a graphic novel, a regular novel, and a screenplay in the works, while I have written . . . a couple of thank you notes, some email, and two birthday cards this summer.

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdgm

"I've been writing a novel." This entire post made me happy (except for the swimmer's ear part. I'm not a monster.), but those five words have me completely sparked.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

You posted this yesterday so I'm sort of hoping your novel is done today. Also HENRY HAS WRITTEN TWO NOVELS? Oh my god. What does it feel like to have done so much so right, you parents? And if Henry starts offering writing classes online, I'll take 'em.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTina Rowley

I can't believe you let Henry read it before letting us read it. We don't even have swimmer's ear!

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarinka

You may have barked. But if you did, I will never tell. That's what friends are for.

(You didn't bark.)

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMom101

Marinka, he glanced over my shoulder once. ONCE! I can't help it if the kid is overly confident in my abilities!

Liz: I sort of growled once. But that was when the waiter implied that I wouldn't want anchovies in my Greek salad, so: warranted.

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralice

After reading your blog for years, taking your first 40 day writing class + meeting you at Camp Mighty, I am SO excited for any version of a novel by you… and if you need an extra set of eyes (to borrow to review your book, please don't actually take my eyes!), send it my way!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia

I saw you and you smelled good AND you were wearing great shoes. So you win, recluse.

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAVB

Oh, Alice! (Wow. That's alarmingly gratifying to type. I don't know why.) I, too, am forgetting how to be around humans. I'm working on a book-thing myself and yesterday I spent a good half hour examining and re-examining this "arc" everyone's always talking about. You'd think it was important or something to novel-writing or something! Sheesh! So, yeah, I feel ya, lady. Writing is like a pet eel out for a walk. It turns this way and that way and all you can do is sort of trip over your own feet and let it yank you around until you just get comfortable with the fact that, yes, you are walking an eel. At least, that's my take on it. My novel's yanked me all over the place. I'm sure it's got more yanking to do. I just keep putting one jangly foot in front of the other. Here's to some of those footsteps looking slightly more graceful over time. :)

August 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Z

I have been reading your blog for several years because you write so well, and I like all of the books that I have read that you have recommended. So I'm looking forward to buying and reading your novel! (Notice the buying part - we owe you at least that much.)

August 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMJ

You never learned how to ride a bike? But you learned how to do other things that children struggle with, like how to use a toilet, how to read, how to floss, how to swallow a pill, how to operate a stove . . . I am at a loss to understand this anomaly. Did your parents just not care about you?

August 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commentervictoria

Adorable son. :)

September 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHouston Rockets Fan Site

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