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Writer in the real world

Yesterday, I made a few final tweaks on the manuscript I've been flogging, Fed Exed galley proofs to my editor at Random House, and went directly to get my roots done.

“Goodness,” said Veronica, the sorceress who sees me through all my seasonal changes in foliage. “What have you been doing for the last six months?”

Every time she lifted a section to foil with bleach (I’m a non-blond attempting to have more fun) I could plainly see three full inches of salt and pepper that have grown since last time I had time to think about anything other than this manuscript.

Flannery O’Connor once said, “Writing a novel is a terrible experience during which hair often falls out and teeth decay.”

Maybe she was talking about writer angst, but for me it’s an entire clouding of the mind, un unhealthy disconnect, during which the alternate world of the book occupies the vast majority of my waking thoughts and becomes more real to me than my own roots. And taxes. And dishes. And laundry. People occasionally pitch biscuits or string beans at me from across the dinner table.

“Earth to Mom?”

Both my kids are off at college this year, so I’ve been able to give myself over to the intoxicatingly wonderful “terrible experience” without feeling guilty or neglectful. But the result is that I’ve been utterly neglectful of myself.

Yesterday, I came out of what my daughter calls "Book Head" to find out how many people are pissed at me. There are several. The scrappy-looking roots are nothing compared to the neglected friends, unanswered email, unblogged blogs, overdue taxes, and untended bookkeeping. One of the major challenges of the writing life is balancing art, business, and life.

I’ll let you know if I ever figure it out. Meanwhile, I’m interested in any helpful advice anyone else might want to kick in on comments.


Congratulations on getting that book out the door. It's a great (though sadly fleeting) feeling.

I know what you mean about having trouble balancing your "real life" and your "book life." Deadlines can make handy excuses, but when you're on a deadline most of the time, you have to find some way to deal with the other stuff.

I once heard a very successful, extremely prolific author say that she saves one day a week for nonwriting appointments, tasks, etc. She said it helped her focus better during the time she was working, and she actually accomplished more in the long run.

She also rents office space and keeps regular work hours. I don't believe she does any writing when she's not "at work." Don't know how I'd manage that. I'm so used to multitasking, I'm not sure I would right without the sound of the washer or dryer running in the background or the smell of something delicious cooking in the crockpot. But then, I need my mindless interruptions for "think time."

Besides, can't fit an office in the budget. :)

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