Back to School

on August 21, 2008

School starts Monday. Am I happy? Well, I put stars and happy faces on the family calendar around August 25th. The kids were not amused.

True, my three little kids have had summer camp roughly the same hours as school. But because there’s no set time they have to be there, we were always late. School starts at 8:30. We weren’t getting to “camp” until 9:30, 10 . . . and then by the time I got my Starbucks and got home, it was 10:30 or 11.

And my two older girls, they had activities up the wazoo. Volleyball practice four days a week, acting classes, movies, etc. I was driver extraordinaire, which normally I don’t mind except that it interrupts my writing time. Sometimes I had to put my foot down and just say, I’m not leaving. But mommy guilt set in and I’d end up providing transportation, cutting up my writing time into smaller chunks.

That’s not the way I write. I like 4-5 hour chunks of time. That’s when I get my best work done. It takes me at least an hour to get back into my story. Then, once I’m deeply into the story, I like at least three hours to stay in the zone. When I have to drag myself away in the middle of the zone, it’s twice as hard to get back into it an hour later. This is the primary reason for most of my procrastination this summer–if I know I only have two hours before picking up Brennan #1 from volleyball, I tend to not start working until after that. It’s like why I don’t nap. If I take an hour nap in the middle of the day, I’m pretty much dead the rest of the night. I’m tired, I usually have a headache, and crabby. I hate naps. My husband, on the other hand, can take a 20 minute power nap on the sofa in his office and be re-charged. Wow, I wish it were that easy for me! Instead, I’ll just have an extra shot of espresso in my skinny caramel latte . . .

When school starts, I’ll have five and a half hours (roughly 9-2:30) to write. I won’t be interrupted unless it’s an emergency. I won’t have an excuse to procrastinate. I can still pick up my Starbucks and be back at my office by 9. I can be deep into the story by 10, 10:30 and write uninterrupted for hours. I’ve also found that I do some of my best writing at night, so I generally will write from about 9-midnight, which was my schedule before I sold.

So I hope.

I firmly believe that writers should write daily. And I do–even when it’s crap. Without creating a habit of daily writing, it’s much harder to sit down and write. Much easier to procrastinate.

There’s was a really good post over at Murderati yesterday if you missed it. JD Rhoades talked about whether you write (or read) as an “exorcism” or an “escape.” I found myself thinking about that question–and realize that I write as a form of exorcism, but I read to escape. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive, however. It’s quite cathartic to write about justice and killing off the bad guy. It’s also just as cathartic to fall deep into a story whether it’s a romantic comedy or a dark crime thriller. But for me, it’s the dark stories that stick with me for the duration, the ones where even in the midst of chaos and tragedy, good prospers over evil. I want to know–I need to believe–that no matter how bad things get, there is always a silver lining.

So I really have two questions today:

Do you write daily?

Do you read as exorcism or escape?

And, because I JUST got this in, I had to share my Japanese cover for SPEAK NO EVIL. Needless to say, I love this cover. I didn’t think I’d love it more than the first trilogy, but wow. I do!