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Writing & Writing & Writing

So – what happens after you write two novels, move to London, Dallas, and then Chicago with a newborn, toddler and then get separated? You don't write much. You go out and get work as a creative writing teacher, you try and make some friends, you smile hard for your adoring son, you try not to doubt your decision to have married the man who no longer seems like your friend. You return to the gym, make friends with a whole new group of gym ladies who love your kid. You try to make friends and realize you're tired of doing that.

photo by Claudio Schwarz

photo by Claudio Schwarz

I don't remember when I started Stone Garden. I do know I was no longer part of any writing scene. I had returned to school to get certified to teach high school English and I was cadre sub at Senn High School where I met a group of gang members (Latin Kings) and refugees from Sarajevo and I was teaching from my heart and going home exhausted and correcting papers and I was a single mom in a strange city who was very alone.

At that point I decided I'd never get published again and I just started writing this story of a girl whose best friend, a boy, has disappeared and she's pretty sure he's dead. I wrote and taught and did match.com. Okay, first date – crazy drunk who kept calling and saying: "I want to live in Molly's World!" And then an angry lawyer who sued people for everything. Then a height challenged guy named Floyd who was really short (hip height) but I tried and then we met some of my friends at a movie and I didn't introduce him. Then 9/11 and this sudden, intense time with my ex because we got engaged in the winter garden and Luke was in my belly when I was standing on the subway platform in '93, hours before the first bombing when Kevin got thrown out of his chair.

"Were there kids on the plane, Mommy?"
"Yes, Luke."
"Then they didn't die because they were kids."
I realized my seven year old had no concept of murder, hate, hating anyone enough to kill them.

I had a blind date on 9/11 which I cancelled suggesting we not reschedule. I was horribly homesick. He begged so I said okay and four days later we had dinner. He was handsome but dull and when he complained about his computer being monitored I started screaming at him about how people had jumped, been burned to death, my friends, the people on the plane. "I understand," he said. "Let me call you."

I had been holding my breath for days. When the first plane hit I was teaching my junior honors English class and Nancy Baker rushed in, her eyes crazy and said: "They're attacking New York." I thought she'd had a nervous breakdown. "Oh, they're always attacking New York," I said, trying to get her in the hallway. But then I looked deeper and realized she wasn't crazy. The towers fell on my friends neighborhood.

After that I said to myself, just write Molly, just write. Write about love and loss and how it feels to be alive. Be alive and love your boy. When the book deal happened, school had begun again, my now husband then boyfriend's daughter had given us all lice. I was very depressed. I checked the computer and there was an e-mail from my agent. I hadn't even known the book was out with publishers. Two publishers wanted it. There was to be an auction. Two huge publishers. She called me finally at five pm and said it had sold for six figures. I was completely freaked out. I turned to the guy sweeping the street and told him.

"Mazeltov," he said.
I felt like killing myself. Go figure.

Molly Moynahan