August 18th, 2009


Thoughts on Writing #35: Gimme a Break.

Hello, and welcome to the thirty-fifth essay in my current series of essays on the art and process of writing. All fifty of the essays in the series are based around my original set of fifty thoughts on writing. These fifty essays touch on every aspect of the writing life that I could think of; some apply directly to the process, while others apply more to maintaining your sanity while being a writer. If you ask me, they're of equal importance. Here's today's thought:

Thoughts on Writing #35: Gimme a Break.

No, I'm not suggesting that you break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar; I'm talking about down time. To expand on today's thought a little:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break from time to time. I pretty much write every day of my life—I'm a junkie, and I admit it—but there are days where the writing takes an hour in the morning, and is then set aside completely, in favor of seeing Flogging Molly perform. Sometimes, my "writing" for the day consists of jotting notes in my planner (also known as "Seanan's second brain"). I need those pauses to reset myself, and sometimes, to find new books in the world around me. Don't hate yourself for needing to breathe.

This is one of those thoughts that seems so logical that it shouldn't need expressing—of course it's okay to take breaks! Dude, we're allowed our leisure time!—but oddly, it's also one of the things I've found personally most challenging. Writing is both a job and a leisure activity for me, and, it seems, for many of us. So how do we keep those functions of our lives split, and how do we keep from becoming so wrapped up in our work that we forget to play? Let's take a look at leisure, and how to have some without losing all our hard work. Ready? Good. Let's begin.

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Two weeks; thirteen days.

In two weeks, Rosemary and Rue will be on bookstore shelves. That means that I have thirteen days left in my "days before Rosemary" countdown. Thirteen days. That's's so bizarre. I mean, I've been working with this world, this character, this vast, sprawling story, in one form or another for more than a decade. And now, in thirteen days, anybody will be able to just walk into a store, slap down their money, and walk out with Toby in their hands. Anybody.

That's incredible.

So many good things in my life have been associated with the number thirteen. It's my favorite number. It's also Vixy's favorite number, and meeting her was one of the things that's made the last five years of my life so fantastic. I sold the first three Toby books to DAW on May 13th. Thirteen is the sixth prime number (here's the math geeking you've been waiting for); it's lucky and unlucky at the same time, which is basically the story of my street pennies-and-swamp pratfalls existence, in a nutshell. And now I'm in the middle of one of the most amazing thirteens of my life. Thirteen days before my first book comes out.

That's still incredible.

To celebrate, I'm running an ARC giveaway through Goodreads; it's completely random, and I have no influence over the results, so please don't try to bribe me with candy corn. Not for that, anyway. I'm always open to being bribed with candy corn for other reasons, like, say, you want the sky not to fall on your head. Give me candy corn, and I will continue to do my best to keep that sky right up there where it belongs.

I'm also putting together a list of Things You, Too, Can Do To Help, because it seems like a good way to calm myself down. I like making lists. Making lists is soothing. Oh, and I'm twitching. I'm twitching a lot.

Thirteen days. This is becoming so damn real.

Eight months of Alice.

Alice* is eight months old today. The world has been fortunate enough to experience eight months of Alice.

Alice takes after her big brother, Alligator—the cat who made me realize that I could fall in love with the Maine Coon—in that she is constantly in the water. Her favorite toy is a big metal baking bowl, filled with water. Her second favorite toy is the front hall closet. I come in a mere third...but she loves me, and that's enough.

Alice is a "with" kitty, rather than an "on" kitty. Siamese are almost universally "on" kitties, and I never thought I'd want a "with" kitty, but it's actually strangely soothing to know that whatever room I'm in, Alice is probably going to be in there, too. She sprawls behind my desk chair while I write, putting herself in grave danger, and doesn't seem to care. She just wants to hang out with her human, and be where I am.

Alice hates to have her claws clipped, but is very good about velveting her paws, and has been since the one time she accidentally scratched me hard enough to make me yell. Alice loves to be brushed. We had...issues...this morning, since last night, her brushing was delayed by the arrival of my author's copies, and she hid my glasses by way of revenge. The cats don't see any problem with me being several hours late to work. My day job does not actually agree with them.

Alice is wonderful. I can't imagine going back to living without her.

(*For those of you joining this program already in progress, Alice is my blue classic tabby and white Maine Coon. She joined the household on April 5th, and promptly made herself a fixture. Her full name is Alice Price-Healy Little Liddel Abernathy McGuire. Yes, I really call her that. Yes, she answers.)