Life Interruptus

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 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! 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!


EmilyBryan said…
Just a quick cancer update since I wrote this post before my visit to my oncologist this week. I do NOT have to have chemotherapy! I'll be monitored closely for the next 5years, but my doctor is confident my cute surgeon got all the cancer before it could spread.

Thank you, God! And thank you all who prayed for me and sent healing wishes.
Yea, Emily! That's fabulous news!
Karen H in NC said…
No Chemo..Congratulations Emily! That is great news!. Your experiences should wake us all up to the fact that illness can strike anyone at any age. It is unfortunate that it takes a drastic life occurance to slow us down to smell the roses (or coffee)!

A similar thing happened to me in 2000. My youngest brother died suddenly of a heart attack at age 61. He was a few years older than me. He had had a quadruple by-pass surgery about 5 years earlier and was doing well...except for his weight. As time went on, he got heavier and heavier. His death and the cause of it woke me up to what I was doing to myself because I found myself nearly 100 pounds overweight. I began an exercise regime (something I've never done) and diet plan. I have lost most of the weight but still need to lose about 40 more pounds to be at goal. It's a hard thing to do, but I'll keep trying and hopefully, this will be the year I make it to goal.
Jane L said…

This is a very insperational topic. You have put in perspective how important it is to take care of our body, mind and spirit first and then be able to focus on our passion of writing or any job that is important to us. I think its wonderful to have the support of fellow writers and readers in a crisis, people who pull together and provide the power of prayer and hope to give us courage to move forward through the tough times! Thankfully that power has been bestowed upon you and Colleen for good health! Thanks for sharing your personal stories!
Maureen said…
That is great news Emily!

Just like actors or singers I never thought being an author was something anyone could do and am amazed that anyone would think it was so simple.
Rachel E. Moniz said…
Good morning, Emily!
I find that just as you wrote, I take my people-watching skills, life experiences, personalities of people that I know and store them in my "to be used one day" file.
SOme experiences might be less-than ideal, but they do make writing more believable.
Excellent topic and post!
Nest always
Really inspirational post, Emily! And, again, I'm soooo happy no chemo will hamper your future writing efforts. :-)

You've given me food for thought as I grumble here about the day joy I have to do when I'd rather write. If it's important enough to me, I'll work it in. No matter what the circumstances.
Joni Rodgers said…
Huge love, peace, joy, and healing vibes to you, Emily.

And gofightwin book!
LuAnn said…
I keep telling myself I need to write a book, but time doesn't slow down long enough to allow me to do that. Keeping up with my journalism writing is often difficult enough!
ScorpJen1121 said…
Congrats on the no chemo, thats SO great!!

And thanks for the lil insight to the crazy life of a writer (good to know what i'm getting myself into lol).
Virginia said…
It is great to here you don't have to have the chemo. I think God is really with your right now!
donnas said…
That's great news! And this was a really inspirational post. And thanks for a sharing a little bit about what its like to be a writer.
Jane said…
Congrats on the wonderful news, Emily.
Deborah said…
Hi Emily! Congratulations on the no chemo! That is wonderful!! Thank you for the inspirational post and giving us all some insight into what it's like to be a writer!
peggy said…
Thats wonderful news Emily.
buddyt said…
Oh Emily, that is wonderful !

The word CANCER can have such a devastating effect on a person.

I am really glas for you and hope 2009 will be the year that all traces of this horrific affliction will disappear from your body.

God blass.

EmilyBryan said…
Karen--I'm sorry about your brother, but I'm happy you're doing something for yourself. Losing so much weight is a tremendous accomplishment. Yay You!

Shannon--I well remember feeling like my life was on hold during the hours I spent at my day job. But when I paid attention, I picked up a number of very usable character names, unique mannerisms and quirks I could bestow on my literary children, and even a few dialogue tidbits. Writers are scavangers, like the artists that gather junk and create something new and astonishing with it.

Thanks to you all for your comments and encouragement!
Margie said…
Congratulations on the wonderful news, Emily! Thanks for the excellent post. I enjoyed reading it!
Karen H,
I was very inspired by your weight-loss story. I'm sure your brother would be proud of you and you should be very proud of yourself!
blessedheart said…
Great blog, Emily! I admire your positive attitude. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Rhonda :0)
Pan Zareta said…
Great blog, Emily! So glad to hear you do not have to have chemo! God Bless!
tetewa said…
So happy for your wonderful news!
lindseye said…
Congratulations on the no chemo. Life sometimes has to take precedence over writing and as much as readers wait for the next book most are patient and will still be there when the book is done. Thanks for the update and have fun with the release.
What great news to start the new year - I truly hope it is a healthy (and productive) year for you :)
EmilyBryan said…
Colleen & Joni--thanks again for letting me visit your blog. And thank you to everyone who posted a comment or question.

Today, I'm blogging about THE SOUTH SEA BUBBLE, the Enron scandal of the Georgian era. My blog tour host, Elizabeth Delisi, has decided to broadcast me into cyberspace on her multiple blogs, so I'm in several places at once. You can find me at:

I'm still giving away one copy of Vexing the Viscount today, but only one. So if you want to increase your odds, post an original comment on each blogsite. That way, you'll be entered in the single drawing several times.

Good luck!
EmilyBryan said…
Oh my exceedinly bad! I didn't announce the winner.


You're our winner for today. Please contact me through my website and send your mailing info! Congrats!

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