This essay originally appeared in my (small press) writing day
I come into my office each morning with one goal—to calm the chaos in my head. I don’t sleep well these days, probably my body telling me I need fewer hours in the sack—and what I’m working on tends to make its way into my dreams and woozy waking moments.
I always have several projects going at once. This lets me jump off a stalled page into one that might be more active and responsive to my persistent nudge.
There’s a novel. The current one is set in the late 1940’s in Cambridge, MA. The husband is pursuing his doctorate at Harvard; the wife is deciding if she wants to stay married. I’ll be honest. This draws from the story of my parents, in that same time and place. They’re both gone now, and I’m free to render them as I like, without fear of offense or condemnation.
There’s a story. The new one is about an older woman who decides to cut her hair, after wearing it long all her life. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. You’ll have to wait until I finish it and find a publisher to know the rest.
There’s an essay—this one, in fact. Its immediate predecessor was a piece I wrote about the television show Perry Mason. Did you know its executive producer was a woman? I found that fascinating. You can read the piece here.
There’s poetry. This is a relatively new passion for me. I’ve published twenty poems in the last two years, and am really thinking about putting a chapbook together. I’m having trouble arranging the poems, though. While I’m used to arranging stories in a collection, poems feel a little different, as if their sequence needs more care. I’m willing to admit that I might be overthinking this. All the poems have to do is talk to each other in a way that makes sense. I’ll keep working on it.
If I’m not writing, I’m promoting. And let me be honest—I don’t like it much. I know it’s necessary. My last novel just came out on October 1st, and I’m still tweeting about it. My publisher is running a sale on Smashwords, and I’m tweeting about that, too. I try to stay on top of my newsletter, and get it out once a month. I’m in the process of redesigning it, or my graphic design person is, or will be, after the first of the year.
Every writing day will have one or more of these elements, in some combination. When it all stalls, which it does more often than I like to admit, there’s always computer solitaire. Really, I’m a whiz with those cards.
Lastly, I listen to the rain. I live in Western Washington, surrounded by huge evergreen trees. There’s something about another two inches of rain falling through their branches that I have come to love, probably out of necessity. Contemplating nature frees the mind, and pretty soon I feel creative again.
Then, I get back at it.