To everything, a season

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

When I was new at this business of writing novels, I was also a young mother.  Which meant that if I had free time, I wrote.  If it was a school day, I wrote.  If it was a weekend and my husband was taking the kids to the beach for a few hours, I wrote.  If I was waiting out a soccer practice or piano lesson, I sat in the car and wrote.

But while I was occupied with the householder thing, whether doing the school run or canning tomatoes or helping produce 32 hand-made valentines, a part of my brain was still working, and at the next free hour, I was primed, and could dive straight into the words.

Then the kids grew older and I had more time on my hands.  Enough time that I could probably have written three books a year and made everyone so happy and begun to hate writing while thoroughly crisping all the synapses in my brain.

Because you can’t do something all the time, even if you love it, without beginning to hate it just a little.

So at the end of the day, I print off my pages, add them to the stack, close my laptop, and rummage around the pantry to see what I can produce for dinner.  Or I close the laptop and put on my sneakers and go for a workout.  And there’s nothing, absolutely nothing for encouraging the solution to problems like spending an hour going nowhere in warm water

or walking up a trail you’ve been on so many times you don’t see it any more.

In the same way, I work in cycles.  I finish a book and I don’t then immediately jump into the next one.  Instead, I go away for a while mentally, by clearing out a room or tackling the untended garden or going on a reading binge.  This is not what works for everyone: many writers strongly support finishing a book one day and starting the new one the next.  All I can figure is that they’re more balanced people than I am, and know when to stop before their brains fry.

I think this is why I didn’t rehire a house cleaner a couple of years ago (other than the irritation of having pristine kitchen counters but dust-choked shelves)—there’s nothing quite so grounding as scrubbing a floor.  A few days of housework, and I can’t wait to get back to the writing.

Like, now.

Comments

  1. Any time you feel the urge to be grounded just let me know!! If you don’t have enough housework to send you back to the laptop I’m sure the rest of us will share. (especially after two weeks of 3 to 7 house guests …)

    Happy Hogmany — hope the owner of the first foot over your threshold is dark-haired and bearing a loaf and a wee dram.

  2. strawberry curls says:

    One is tempted to say hallelujah for the monotony and general mindlessness of housework if it sends you back to your laptop to write something wonderful that we all can enjoy in our leisure time.

    Happy New Year…now go back to writing.

    –Alice

  3. RussellHolmes says:

    I write too (in part, inspired by the Russell books), but I also go to school. Funny thing is that between classes I never loose my train of thought. My stories are in their own little mental storage cabinet and school has its own compartment as well. Do you find that when you write Laurie?

    Happy New Year!

  4. Dear Ms. King, Thank you for writing today! All of your fans win. Happy New Year!!!

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