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June 22, 2009

Sandra Carey CodyA Day in One Writer’s Life:

Writers are supposed to love writing. We do, but . . . Why am I saying “we”? I can only speak for myself. So, here goes . . .

It’s almost noon and I’m working on Chapter 11 of a new Jennie Connors novel. I have an outline of the book. The beginning is written. I know how it will end and some pretty good ideas for the middle. I have a clear picture of what is supposed to happen in this chapter and a goal for how the chapter will advance the plot. It should be a piece of cake to get this done. So far I’ve written 409 words and have introduced a new character. A good start, but a far cry from where I need to be. What’s holding me back? Well, time, of course. There are so many demands on a writer’s time. In addition to the writing, I’ve checked email seven times, twice taken time out for a cup of tea, made four phone calls (three of them were actually necessary), read an article in Audubon about the blue-footed ferret (fascinating creature, wonder if I could work one into the story). I’ve changed my mind about what to have for dinner once (so far). OK-enough. I’m sure you get the picture.

Why do I do this to myself? I ask myself that every day. Maybe I’m not meant to be a writer. I consider that possibility every day too. But what will happen to the voices in my head if I don’t put them on paper. Who will tell their story if I don’t? Does anyone care? I do! So– Back to Chapter 11. It should be easy to write; the new character is a harried young mother with three little girls, all under age five. The kids are part of the scene, so there’s going to be a lot of motion, the possibility of gentle humor.  The little family is poised to receive bad news, so there’s a natural tension and–

Wait! The clock is chiming. One, two, three . . . twelve. Lunch time. No wonder I can’t write. I need nourishment.

 I’m back. It’s 12:20. Time to stop fooling around and get to work on Chapter 11. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m back. It’s almost 11:30 p.m. What happened in the eleven-hour interim? I spent a little over three hours on Chapter 11 before I went out to check the mail. Not much mail, but the kids across the street had a lemonade stand. Of course I had to support their effort. While I was out there, drinking lemonade and admiring the five-year-old’s new sandals, a former neighbor drove by. She stopped; we chatted and promised to keep in touch. I’m not sure how much time that stroll to the mailbox took out of my day. Too much. Even so, I managed to complete Chapter 11 before dinner. After dinner, kitchen clean-up, some quality time with my dear and (mostly) patient spouse, I came back and got a good start on Chapter 12 before I stopped to finish the library book that’s due tomorrow (Rhys Bowen’s Oh Danny Boy – and, yes, I would recommend it).

All in all, a good day–a little writing, a little reading, an old friend, some young friends, tea, lemonade, meals–the minutiae that gives texture to a life, whether real or imagined.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2009 12:55 PM

    Oh, Sandy, you are so right! Some days I will do anything to avoid writing. I curse the day I discovered that Solitaire and MahJong had been pre-loaded onto my laptop.

    However, there is nothing like a big, bad DEADLINE to put the fear of god and editors into a writer!


  2. June 23, 2009 3:32 PM

    You got it right. Procastrination and self-doubt are also my constant companions.
    It takes a writer to know a writer.
    And by the way, a chapter per day? Pretty impressive. I’m lucky if I write a chapter per week. I must be the slowlest writer ever.


  3. June 23, 2009 5:15 PM

    Thanks for stopping by, Carmen. No, I don’t produce a chapter a day, every day. Wish I did. I’d been fooling around with that particular piece of the pie for quite a few days and it finally came together.

    Soorry that you suffer from procastrination and self-doubt, but am glad to know I’m not alone.

  4. Karen Aduba permalink
    June 23, 2009 7:13 PM

    DO NOT STOP writing. I’m impatiently waiting for the next book.
    What a heavenly way to spend your day!

  5. June 23, 2009 9:21 PM

    Hi Sandy!

    I really like your article on procrastination. It rings a very large bell. I must tell you that this blog inspires me to buckle down again. I’ve been lazy.


  6. Sharen Butrum permalink
    June 24, 2009 12:34 AM

    Sandy – you have described my life! My house is never so clean as when I’m supposedly writing.

  7. June 24, 2009 1:32 PM

    Thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts. It seems we all have something in common.

  8. Gretchen Haertsch permalink
    June 25, 2009 2:48 PM

    Seems to me you still managed to get quite a bit done somehow! I really like how you lay it all out here. My students need to see this. Sure, you had to take breaks but you still did the job. It’s really a portrait of every writing woman’s life. Can’t wait to read your latest.

  9. June 25, 2009 6:41 PM

    Thanks, Gretchen.

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