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Boxing the Octopus: all content copyright 2008 Colleen Thompson and Joni Rodgers all rights reserved.
Today we welcome special guest blogger, historical romance author Emily Bryan, here to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart. Read on for a chance to win signed hilarious upcoming release, Vexing the Viscount.
Ah! The writer’s life.
We sit about in our posh home offices, gazing out at picture perfect scenery, and creating our masterpieces of prose without effort. We fling our words on the page with abandon and without need of revision. Stories flow from our fingertips so easily, we laugh at deadlines. A few scribbled phrases on a crumpled napkin will net us a multi-book contract. Promotion is taken care of by the promo-elves who creep out each night and stuff envelops, craft clever blog posts, and contact influential media types about TV interviews and feature stories. Royalty checks roll in like clockwork and our families bask in the reflected glow of our success.
And you didn’t think I could write fantasy!
The truth is a writer’s life is very much like everyone else’s. We do housework. We take care of our families. Lots of us hold down 9-5 jobs (I’m no longer in that camp. Thank you, God!) We wonder how we’ll get everything done that needs doing, but somehow, we knuckle down and meet the deadlines and produce stories that we hope people will want to read.
Then like everyone else, sometimes life throws us a serious curve. Colleen Thompson and I are just two of the most recent poster girls for Life Interruptus. Colleen with an elbow injury that restricts her typing and me with cancer.
My mantra has always been “You-Must-Write-Every-Day-To-Be-A-Good-Writer.” I took my computer with us on vacations. I wrote at my grandmother’s hospital bedside after she had a stroke (while she was sleeping, of course!). Even when I worked 40 hours a week, I consistently produced 100 manuscript pages a month. When I started writing full time, I kicked myself each day I didn’t produce 10 pages. I fully believed Norman Mailer’s credo. “Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day."
Good luck with that when you’re mainlining morphine.
Being diagnosed with cancer has changed my views a little. I’m re-evaluating what it means to be a writer. Yes, it’s important to set goals and a deadline is a professional obligation I will not violate. And I still believe the only way to improve as a writer is to write.
But part of a writer’s job is to experience life deeply enough to share it in a meaningful way. To observe with fresh eyes. To store up emotions and motivations for our characters’ future use. Nothing is ever wasted on a writer. We’ll use every tragedy, every triumph, every hysterically funny or terrifying thing that happens to us or to anyone within our circle of observation.
So I gave myself permission for a little downtime while I recuperated from my December surgery. I caught up on my reading for pleasure. I did some research for the novella I’m working on (yes, I find research fun!). I watched some movies I’d been meaning to see, ticking off plotpoints in my head as the story scrolled by. I enjoyed Christmas with my family.
And I thought about life and death and laughter and loving.
On Monday of this week, I started working on my holiday novella again. After my brief hiatus, it was wonderfully refreshing to slip into my fictional world once again. I had great fun walking in my characters’ shoes and even more fun thwarting them with obstacles to overcome. I crafted a few zingers I hope will have my readers chuckling. I polished and tightened a love scene that had me squirming in my recliner.
The rest did me good. Now the work is doing me one better. While I was writing, I forgot to fret about how chemo might impact my 2009. Even my incision hurt less. My “Life Interruptus” experience made me appreciate afresh the simple joy of putting words together.
If there does turn out to be chemo in my future, I may have to reduce my 10-page-a-day expectations, but I’ll still be able to do the work of a writer.
Even on a bad day.
If you’re an aspiring writer, please visit my website www.emilybryan.com and check out my WRITE STUFF pages. They are just for you.
Thanks for letting me visit with your readers, Colleen and Joni. Feel better, Colleen. I’m happy to be able to offer a FREE copy of Vexing the Viscount to one lucky commenter today. I haven’t mentioned much about my upcoming release in this post, so if you’d like to read an excerpt from Vexing the Viscount, please visit www.emilybryan.com! I’ll be popping in to answer questions and shoot the breeze. Be sure to check back tomorrow to see if YOU are the winner!