Minecraft, Novel Writing, and What DOES The Fox Say, anyway? (a 7QT post)


We became a Minecraft family this week. Alex, proving the point that no matter how much Santa brings it’ll never be enough, began asking for the game before the Christmas Wii had even been installed permanently. We told him he could do chores to earn the money–maybe. I was all set to commit when he came home from a friend’s house one day and said nonchalantly, “We killed all the villagers, because we needed their homes.”


That set us back by almost two months. Even Christian didn’t understand the strength of my antipathy to that statement. “They kill people in the Lego games, and the people just break into pieces. It’s not like there’s any gore.”

It took me a long time to realize exactly what bothered me. The Avengers game, the Lego Star Wars game, and so on are all save-the-world mission kinds of games. Games where the objective is to defeat bad people whose goal is to hurt others.

What Alex described was the slaughter of a group of innocents, simply because they were in the way. Even in a virtual world, I think that’s a scary, scary precedent.

When I finally gave in on Minecraft this week (Alex has shown remarkable persistence on this issue), I handed the iPad to Alex with a strict instruction. If there are people around and you need what they have, then you have to protect them AND you.


I went to Julianna’s Valentine’s Day party at school yesterday, and midway through I had a great moment of self-revelation. I don’t like school parties, and I was feeling like I was a bad person because of it. But I realized this is the pinnacle of my introversion: having to go to a place where I don’t even know the kids’ names, let alone their parents’, and not really having a job or function. I do great in public situations because I know my role. Parties are not like that. At. All. I asked Christian, “Is it psychotic that I enjoy an IEP meeting more than a Valentine party?”


A couple of years ago one of my novels critique partners referred to her book as “The Novel That Won’t Die.” I tsked at her for being tempted to give up, for feeling that further efforts were a waste of time and energy. But now I know how she felt.  I continue to work at revising my opening, and I am constantly fighting the voice in the back of my head that whispers gleefully, “You’ll never write an opening that will make people want to keep reading, hee hee heee!”


Okay, enough of that. Take 5 is about music, and the way my children react to it. I want to know if this is universal or if it’s because we’re a family of musicians. Whenever the kids are getting on each other’s nerves in the car, if we put on music they settle down. The Lion King seems to work the best, but really most music will do. And yesterday I took Michael to a funeral, where he was beginning to wiggle when the soloist came out and began singing “In The Garden.” Michael instantly went still and stared at him until he was done–and it was several minutes. (I didn’ t know there were so many verses to that song.) Does this work for other people?


Alex pulled up “What Does The Fox Say?” for Nicholas this week, and ever since they’ve been going around the house singing, What does the fox say? Ding-ding-ding-dee-ding dee-dee ding! Nicholas, however, had a real triumph of cleverness on Tuesday. He sang, “What does the fox say? Let it go, let it go, I can’t hold it back it anymore!

It was hilarious, the first time. The boys still think it’s hilarious. Ahem.


On a serious note, within forty-eight hours this week two families I know lost a father/husband unexpectedly. In light of what they are going through, all of what I am writing today feels trite, and I hesitate even to post about novels or kid moments on Facebook. It seems wrong to share rejoicing and frustration about trivialities in the face of such tremendous suffering. I ache on behalf of those who grieve, yet life marches on, and it seems wrong, somehow. I know it isn’t–I know that is the natural order of things. But I want to acknowledge the suffering of many people I know right now, and the need for prayers.

Oh, look, it’s Valentine’s Day, isn’t it? (Shrugs.) Not on my agenda today…although maybe I should try to fancy up dinner tonight for the family… Onward and upward, into another long weekend.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about epic novels, sold out conferences, book cover photos, and the horror of realizing youre my neighbor