Note to self and to all others who write for a living: Never, ever, ever agree to a January 1st deadline.
Why not? Let me count the ways – NCTE/ALAN, Thanksgiving, Daughters 1, 2 & 3, Boyfriends of Daughters 1, 2 & 3, and Number One Son, the 25-person family extravaganza called Christmas dinner, etc. etc, etc.
Life calms down AFTER January 1st, not before. Doh!
I have been working on my new YA on and off for months, but I keep being interrupted; by travel, conferences, speeches to write, interviews, last edits on the historical books, research and planning for the next historical, and all of the above-mentioned winter/holiday frenzy.
To be blunt, I was getting near meltdown about giving the book the energy and focus it needed. My Beloved Husband had the answer: I needed to run away from home. Which was not the answer I was looking for, but he was right. I have a great writing set-up; house in the country, supportive partner, no toddlers hanging around, luring me to play outside. But I needed total solitude so I could immerse myself in the story – no interruptions, no threats of interruptions. I needed to go to the Magic Place.
After giving a speech at Syracuse University and dinner with a dear friend and her daughter Friday night, I holed up in an undisclosed location (fairly comfortable hotel) and got busy. I am not going to tell you how many pages I wrote – I hate it when people get competitive about page counts or word counts. But I’ll tell you this: I arrived with a character in my head. I am leaving with her story on the page. I doubled my personal page goal, and I thought that goal was unrealistic to begin with. (This was the raw draft; the brain dump onto the page. I don’t know that I would even call it a first draft, not yet. But it’s close.)
I am feeling better about being a writer right now than I have for about six years. Because I spent two very, very long days and nights completely given over to a story. I ate and wrote, went out for more food, wrote some more. Ate a snack, wrote. I feel kind of crappy about not running, but I didn’t want to lose a precious minute. I fell asleep thinking about the story, I woke up thinking about the story. I had many instances of unreality, not sure where I ended and the story began.
I did not totally abandon my family. I fielded several Santa question calls and checked in with my BH several times a day. He’s going to be picking me up in a few minutes and we are off to celebrate Jessica’s birthday.
So today I feel like a writer, a real writer. I highly recommend this sort of weekend to everyone who is fighting to find time to write.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESS!!!!