I Have To Go came all at once.
When my son Andrew was almost three years old he was still wetting his bed. One night he peed the bed four times. We ran out of sheets. I was doing laundry at three in the morning and was really upset.
The next day I was telling stories in a small town called Cookstown, Ontario. A little boy in the front row started to jump up and down on his seat. I didn’t pay attention.
After awhile he starts to yell “pee, pee, pee.” His father ran down the aisle, carried him out the back door, brought him back in a few minutes and sat him down.
This was the end of the storytelling and I was making up a new story. I said “Who wants to be in a new story?” The little kid who had to go pee stuck up his hand and said “me, me.”
His name was Andrew. The same name as my son who had peed his bed four times the night before.
I suddenly felt a pee story coming on; so I made up a story about a little kid who goes pee at all the wrong times. The kids loved it. They fell off their seats laughing.
The minute I made it up I thought, “Why have I never done this before! Of course kids would like a story about pee. Why didn’t I ever think about that before?” [It is that way with a lot of my stories. Once I make them up they seem so obvious I can’t understand why I didn’t think of them years before.]
I Have To Go got made into a book very quickly. One week after I had made it up I told it at my publishers.
Ann Millyard, one of my publishers, immediately started telling me about all the trouble she had toilet training her children and said it was going to be my next book.
I said “Hey, wait a minute. It’s only one week old. My stories have to be two years old to be any good at all.”
She said “Nonsense. It’s a very good story. We are making it into a book.” And they did.
First they made it into one of the mini books. The next year they wanted to make it into a big book.
They asked me to change the ending a little bit. So I told it and told it and told it some more and made up the ending where Andrew yells downstairs and asks his grandfather if he has to go pee.
That ending is not in the little book. So if you have the big book and the little book look at them because they don’t have the same ending.