# of pages written (yesterday and today): 15
# of days left to write 1st draft: 111
I’m often surprised at how ballsy old people can be.
On Monday I went to a job interview to be a substitute for an after-school program at Wellfleet Elementary. At least, I thought it was an interview. When I talked to the program director on the phone, she said, “come meet me at Abiyoyo Toy Store. Then we’ll go up to the school together and talk to the teachers.”
“OK,” I said, jotting down the address. I didn’t think much of it until later, when I was telling Stefan about the interview. “For some reason she wants me to meet her at a toy store in Wellfleet.”
“She probably wants a ride,” he said.
“Yeah. That’s a common thing people do on the Cape.”
I got to Abiyoyo and found the woman I was supposed to meet. She was an older lady wearing a pair of baggy linen pants and a fashionable white jean jacket.
“Hi, I’m Eva,” I said.
She squinted at me. “OK. Shall we go up to the school? Do you have a car?”
“Yes,” I told her.
“Great. I don’t drive.”
What if I didn’t have a car, I wondered, as we headed out to the parking lot. We drove to the school, and she told me that she had lived in New York City for years and taught fifth grade. “I never learned to drive,” she said, shrugging. “Now I live with someone and make him drive me everywhere.”
I wondered if this was the interview; she wasn’t asking me very many questions about myself. “I taught fifth grade for a year,” I offered. “But mostly I’ve taught middle and high school.”
“Well, these kids are Kindergarten through fifth. Mostly first and second grade.” She spoke briskly, like a true New Yorker.
“I’ve tutored all ages,” I said quickly. “And baby-sat, of course. I like kids.”
She didn’t seem to be paying attention. She gazed out the window. “And what is it that you’re doing here?” she demanded suddenly.
“I’m taking a year off from teaching,” I said. “I’m working on a juvenile fiction novel.” I figured that sounded good, given the position, and besides, it was true. A few days ago I did start working on a juvenile fiction novel.
When we got to the school, she said, “so, we’ll try to let you know in advance which days we’ll need you, but there’s always two teachers on duty, so whoever you’re working with will show you what to do. You do want the job, don’t you?”
“Sure,” I said quickly.
We walked through the gym to the little after-care room. Two fifth grade boys stood at the back playing Legos, and the rest of the kids were at tables, filling out their homework worksheets. “Hey everybody,” the program director said, “this is Eva. You’re going to be seeing her sometimes.”
“Hi,” I said, waving at them.
They all waved and smiled back at me.
After awhile, the kids went outside to play. “I just have to call your references,” the program director said, “and do a criminal background check, and then you’re good to go.”
“Sounds great,” I told her.
“Well,” she looked at her watch, “I really gotta get back to town. You can give me a ride, can’t you?” She was so unapologetic about it.
A lot of older people are like this, I thought. They’ve gotten to a point where they don’t really care about being polite. They just do what they want, say what they want, and let the world think what it will.
“Of course,” I told her. “I don’t mind at all.”
* * *
When I got home, I took a walk around the neighborhood and talked to my grandma on the phone. She was calling to tell me that her internet isn’t working, so I shouldn’t email her anything.
“How’s it going?” she asked. “I was reading your blog up until a few days ago, but I haven’t been able to since the internet went out.”
“Oh, things are good,” I said. I wondered if she was reading my blog every day, or just intermittently.
We talked for awhile about various things, and then I headed back towards home. Just as I was crossing the yard, she said, “I read about how you were thinking of writing erotica.”
“Oh, you did?” I paused on the steps leading up to the house.
“Yes. And you said –”
“I said, ‘what would my grandma say?’” I held my breath. I was about to find out.
“Well,” she said, “I just want to let you know that this grandma would say fine. I probably know more about erotica than you do. And I say, you write whatever you want, and don’t you worry about what anyone else thinks. You just go for it.”
“Thank you, Grandma.” I smiled. If there’s a list somewhere, I thought, of “most awesome things said by grandmas,” that should go on it.
It was a little less than a week ago that I got the idea for a juvenile fiction fantasy novel and started writing it. As per usual, it’s in the early stages, which means I’m still excited about it. I’ve written about sixty pages, and I have a very rough outline. I talked to my writing group about it on Tuesday, and they thought it sounded great.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea. I can imagine that book being in a school library,” Mary said. She is a retired second grade teacher from New York.
“Thanks so much,” I told her.
I’m hoping that if I tell people about it, they will encourage me to keep going when I feel stuck – as I know I inevitably will.
I’m feeling good about it right now, and I think it has potential. The only thing is, it doesn’t really jive with this blog. Here I’ve been writing these confessional, often adult-themed posts about my real life. And I’ve been enjoying it. I’ve even been thinking there might be a book in here somewhere – maybe about my trials and tribulations trying, and failing, to find love.
But if I publish a juvenile fiction fantasy novel… what then? Will I have to change my blog to something more kid-friendly? Will all of my subsequent novels need to be of the same genre? Will I have to publish adult books under a pseudonym? E.M. Lang, perhaps? I feel that if J.K. Rowling, for example, wanted to publish a book of erotic short stories, her publishers simply would not allow it.
Naturally, I don’t need to worry about this yet. I can cross that bridge if I ever come to it. But it is a thought that has come to mind more than once.
I guess I always assumed I couldn’t talk to my grandma about any topic rated above PG. And in the same way, I assumed that authors of juvenile fiction are never allowed to write anything that’s not for children. But of course, that can’t be true. No one can really tell you what you can and can’t write.
Now that I think about it, Roald Dahl has books of short stories for adults. Judy Blume has an adult novel. I guess with authors, just as with anyone, there comes a point when you say, “this is what I’m doing, and I’m not apologizing for it.”
My grandma says to write what I want to write, and I’m going to follow her advice. Some days I feel like writing about children on a journey through a magical forest, encountering fearsome beasts along the way. Other days, I feel like writing about my own journey, trying to find love and wisdom, and encountering fearsome beasts of my own.
I’m not a senior citizen yet, but maybe I should start acting like one. I need to be more ballsy. I need to say what I want, write what I want, and let the world think what it will.