On June 1, 1996, when The Deep End of the Ocean was published, my kids were 2, 7, 9, and 15. I had not practiced law in 7 years–they were a full-time job. Reading was my lifeline.
But the all-consuming part of mothering appeared to be coming to an end. During 1995, I had 3 free moments. 1996 brought me 7 more. I know the exact number because the moments were so astonishing that I wrote them down. I still have the tiny slip of paper.
During each of those 10 moments, I picked up a pen and a piece of paper or I sat at our first computer and tried to write. Writing was not a need or even a desire, but if I had a free moment, I dipped in.
But in January of 1997, when I started writing, I couldn’t stop. I began to make time for it. And it was in April of the same year that I finally read The Deep End of the Ocean. It was Jacquelyn Mitchard’s debut novel. She had five children and had written this book that I could not put down, that took me to another place, that I have kept on my shelf for all these years.
In the novel, Beth and Pat have 3 children–a baby, 3-year-old Ben and 7-year-old Vincent. Chapter 1 begins with a moment between a husband and a wife that feels true.
“I only like the baby,” Beth told her husband, as they stacked plastic bags and diaper bags, and duffel bags and camera bags, and Beth’s big old Bacfold reflector–all in a pile in the hall.
She was surprised when Pat looked at her with disgust; she knew he didn’t want to fight, didn’t want to make trouble on the verge of clearing the whole tribe out for a weekend.
It was my love of books like The Deep End of the Ocean that made me want to write in the first place. During my 2012 residency at Ragdale, I had the pleasure of meeting Jacquelyn Mitchard. Earlier this year, she generously agreed to read my first novel and send a quote. Huge thanks to Jacquelyn Mitchard for her writing and for her support of mine.