Want to Write a Book? Don't Do Laundry

(Laura’s note: I’m on maternity leave, and while I’ll be writing occasionally over the next few weeks, I wanted to take the opportunity to run guest posts by some of my favorite bloggers. Enjoy!)

By Calee M. Lee

My husband inherited a first-generation hide-a-bed sofa that once belonged to his great-great grandfather. The steel springs have been covered by a series of reupholsterings and its current incarnation is a respectable cream, chosen not for its innate beauty, but because I could buy eight yards of fabric on the spot and rid our master bedroom of  the mauve velvet chosen sometime in the early eighties. It’s a lovely piece of antique furniture, but we rarely sit on it.  Strike that. We never sit on it.

The sofa is laundry central and even though I promised myself I would never be one of those mothers who lets the laundry pile up, I am.  And it may be the best thing that ever happened to me.

On March 30th, I found myself with an extra couple of hours before my mother was scheduled to bring my children home. I’d finished up my freelance projects for the week and looked at the pile of laundry located all of two feet from my desk. I posted a tweet, “I have 2 (unplanned for) hours until the kids come home. I know @lvanderkam would not approve, but I’m considering doing laundry.”

I didn’t need to wait for Laura’s reply. I knew the best way to spend those hours would not be folding clothes while watching Tivo’ed So You Think You Can Dance. As much as I love a good dance-off, TV and chores are for hours when my brain is done. Instead of completing one task, I started a new one—I began writing the children’s story I’d been telling for years.

Six months later, that book is available on Amazon. I’d never bothered writing the story because frankly, I didn’t think I had the time.  The Queen and the Cats is based on a story I heard while traveling in Cyprus a couple of years back. Our family (yes, we did 15 hours of flight time with a 2-year-old) had gone to visit friends and explore the country’s churches and monasteries. When we found an equal number of cats as monks, we asked around and heard that the present-day felines were descended from a ship load of cats sent by Saint Helena—Emperor Constantine’s mother—when she visited the island in the 4th century.  She had found the population almost decimated and the churches infested with snakes. Cats were her ingenious solution and they’ve been a part of the religious landscape ever since.

Because I’m impatient and stubborn, I chose to take advantage of new technology, enlist an artist friend, and publish the book myself in print and ebook editions. We had always talked about having more stories like this available for our kids and so have planned a whole series of “princess-alternative” picture books focusing on great royal women from Christian history.

On another afternoon (when I wasn’t doing laundry) I realized if I was going to go through the hassle of developing a contract, learning how to make an ebook and figuring out how to market from my home office, I figured I might as well build a little company and do this for others. Xist Publishing was born, I now have 3 additional authors signed, and we’re planning on releasing nearly 20 books in 2012.

Two weeks ago, I launched my book and it’s held on to the #1 spot on the Christian Children’s biography chart. Last night, I called our monthly cleaning service and requested they come more frequently.

I could have done laundry. Instead, I played with one dream and ended up making many more come true.

Calee M. Lee is the author of The Queen and the Cats: A Story of Saint Audrey, Caterpillars Don’t Check Email, and the editor of We love BUGS: 31 Classic Insect Poems for Kids. She is the founder of Xist Publishing, providing books for the touchscreen generation. 



One Response to Want to Write a Book? Don't Do Laundry


  1. Sarah says:

    Ha ha, I am so glad to see this post today! I just posted on my blog about my now-not-so-secret goal to write a book. Like you, I tend to unload the dishwasher and put away laundry instead of focusing on what I actually need and want to be doing. Thanks for the reminder!