"Dad, I'm tired of you reading other people's books. I want you to tell bedtime stories."
"Okay," I say. "But honestly, I feel stuck. I've had book ideas and they've been going nowhere."
"I have an idea," he says with a smile. "You could do a story about a pet doctor. What's it called?"
"A veterinarian?" I ask.
"Yeah, but he's a veterinarian for magical creatures. And so a boy gets to be the next one. He gets to be trained to take care of a pegasus or a dragon or a unicorn."
I get excited at the idea. "They could live in the forest, in tree houses."
"Or in trees or in the ground with the green stuff growing over it."
"Yeah, but they could also be here in the city. What do you think?"
He nods his head and continues. "He could be a gnome," he says, reminding me of a bedtime story I told about gnomes who could walk through walls, turn invisible and work magic.
"What would his name be?"
He shrugs his shoulders.
"Yeah," Micah chimes in. "He has to be a Luke." He offers no reason, but he doesn't have to. The boy is Luke.
I haven't planned anything. I haven't brainstormed anything. I'm not even sure what to think of the premise. I have no villain. I have no conflict. The setting is sketchy in my head and I'm barely getting to know the characters.
But right now, it doesn't matter. I'm taking a break from trying to write fiction that will be publishable. I'm not going to agonize over whether it sounds too much like Harry Potter or How to Train a Dragon.
I want to write something Joel, Micah and Brenna will enjoy. Right now, I'm not writing a novel. I'm telling a story. And here’s the thing: writing has become fun again, because I’m writing for the sheer love of writing and I’m writing for the only critics who have ever mattered.