Saturday, September 27, 2014

Still Not Nesting

When I sold my first book to Avalon, I learned that the print run would be about 2,000 copies. Of course I was thrilled anyway, and the thought of having several thousand people read my book made me giddy. The print runs on the other four Avalon books were similar, and since I chose to put the last Wally Morris mystery out myself, with the help of CreateSpace, it was probably less.

But the amazing thing is that I once had an audience of over a million readers. A long time ago I had read an op-ed column by Anna Quindlen, a person whose opinions I respected, and I strongly disagreed with her. You can read my letter to the editor, thanks to the magic of the internet. Believe me, though, if I couldn’t have found it that way, I have copies of the newspaper from that day tucked safely away.



Published: February 10, 1988

To The Living Section:

Anna Quindlen's column on the nesting instinct [ Life in the 30's, Jan. 27 ] reminds us that the grass is still greener on the other side.

Nesting is not all what a person who doesn't have a job does all day. Those of us who don't have jobs do not all spend the entire time our children are in school having lunch with our friends or furniture shopping and picking out wallpaper. We have the luxury of having time to do these things occasionally (and without the children, which is the only sane way), but we also feel strong responsibilities to various activities, which we probably wouldn't have time for if we were working.

We make sure our children get to their different after-school activities. We also work on committees handling such trivialities as improving our children's education and starting recycling programs in our towns. Some of us even have to find sitters to take our infants so we can have the time to do such things as performing in a puppet show that seeks to sensitize third graders to the handicapped. We don't expect help from working mothers for these things, although some of them occasionally ask us to chauffeur their children around since they think we have nothing better to do.

One thing that I have noticed is different: we don't have to send a sick child to school. That's usually the day we do a lot of nesting, because it stops our whirlwind of activities and there's not much else we can do. One or two days spent at home nesting, particularly with a cranky child, is plenty for most of us, and more than satisfies that need for months. JOANI ASCHER South Orange, N.J.

Looking at that letter all these years later. I hope I did not hurt anyone’s feelings. It is hard to get everything done, I’m sure, especially if a person has a full-time job. And now, from the standpoint of a writer trying to get book after book finished and published while people think that just because I only work part time the rest of my time is available for whatever, I find myself just giving in, putting off my work, so that I can do those jobs that full-time workers don’t have time to do. My children are grown and gone, and the only person home with me, during the days when I’m not working at my outside job, has four legs and a tail. But she needs time too, so that she can develop into a good Seeing Eye® guide dog.

And I can always hope that someday I’ll have a circulation closer to the one I had for my letter to the editor over twenty years ago before I started writing professionally.


  1. True that Joani. I have never had the pleasure of being a stay at home mom but I know if I had I would have been just as busy as a person with a job. Writing is also a job. Sometimes harder and more stressful than a workplace. Thanks for sharing

  2. You're so right, Joani. We all have busy lives and, as writers, we still have to carve out time for our "work". It's so easy to let the time slip away and the story go untold. Good luck finding that million-reader mark again.

  3. Hi Joani--
    Now that I write fulltime I don't know how I did it when I worked outside the home for all those years. The day is filled with so many tasks to do. I was more productive as a writer with an 8 hour a day job! You're right, people do assume we have time to do whatever because we only write and we're at home all day.