The year of Ginny Moon – Benjamin Ludwig

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By Benjamin Ludwig

When we learned that there was an offer for my novel, Ginny Moon, my wife and I were ecstatic. It meant all those years of writing hadn’t been for naught. It meant I finally had the opportunity to say things about families and foster care that I’d wanted to say for years. But it also meant that we could take Ian out of daycare, and that’s what mattered most to us.♥

My wife had been home with Ian from the day he was born. We’d managed to make ends meet, as they say, but my salary as a public-school teacher just wasn’t enough to keep us going. So my wife went back to work, and Ian – at 18 months old – went to daycare. His sister was already in kindergarten, and our adopted daughter was in high school. To know that he was with strangers all day was heartbreaking for us, especially when his sister had enjoyed five full years at home before going to school.

There was no question what we would do. When the contract was signed, I resigned my teaching job, and came home to take care of Ian.

Why me, and not my wife? Several reasons. First-time novelists have to work extremely hard to help their books succeed. It’s essential that an author help with marketing and publicity efforts. To support the book, I would write articles, do interviews, and meet with booksellers and librarians. I would set up a website, and get involved with social media. And, I would finish my next book.

Second, I was already enrolled part-time in an MFA program. To teach creative writing at a university, you need to have not only a book, but also an MFA. If I was home instead of teaching school, surely I would be able to complete the program faster.

And third, my wife made more money than I did. A computer scientist, she could easily make twice what I could make.

So Ian and I came home. Right away everyone saw that because I was around during the day (I made sure all my courses were at night), I could also pick up our seven-year-old from school. And drive our adopted daughter to and from work. And do the grocery shopping. The laundry. And cook dinner, make the kids’ beds, and keep the house clean. In short, I could do all the things my wife used to do, while simultaneously promoting a novel, finishing a degree program, and writing a new book.GinnyMoon-cvr

Almost immediately, something had to give, as they say, but almost all the somethings were sacred. I couldn’t give up my efforts to support Ginny Moon, and I wouldn’t put Ian back in daycare. My wife obviously couldn’t give up her job. So what had to go? Or change?

The first and easiest thing was the time I put into writing my next book. It all but disappeared. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning and working straight through the weekend, I barely managed to finish the first draft.

The second thing to go was our house. See, we heated with wood, and I just couldn’t keep up with the routine of splitting logs and kindling, starting fires, loading wood into the stove, and cleaning out the ashes. That year, we sold the place, and moved into a house that had an oil furnace.

Third, family time. When my wife was home on the weekends, she took the kids out so that I would have time to work on Ginny Moon projects – the articles and interviews, the website and social media tasks.

But still it wasn’t enough.

So we hired someone to drive our adopted daughter to and from her job at the grocery store. Then we hired someone to plow the driveway. Then we started eating out at restaurants. Eating out became a necessity, if only because we didn’t have to clean the dishes afterward.

And now that spring has come and I’m about to head out on a book tour, I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to hire someone to take care of our lawn.

In all, Ian was only in daycare for six months. The two of us had a great time this year – the year that became, for us, the Year of Ginny Moon. We read, we played outside, had lunch together, and ran errands. He used his toy lawnmower as a vacuum cleaner whenever I did the floors. He handed me laundry from the dryer so that I could fold it, one shirt at a time.

He’s out of diapers now, and in the fall will go to preschool. The book tours and appearances will be over. I’ll have ample time to work on any and all book-business, and to apply for university jobs. This place is going to feel like a vacuum.

Good thing this past year taught me how to use one.

A life-long teacher of English and writing, Benjamin Ludwig lives in New Hampshire with his family. He holds an MAT in English Education and an MFA in Writing. Shortly after he and his wife married they became foster parents and adopted a teenager with autism. Ginny Moon is his first novel, which was inspired in part by his conversations with other parents at Special Olympics basketball practices.


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