A Clear Head

Trees in Seaport Village, San DiegoI apologize for the lack of a post last week, but I was visiting beautiful San Diego, California.  It was a work thing for my day J.O.B., which means I was stuck inside most of the day.  But since Daylight Savings Time was in effect, I had two hours of sunshine to enjoy after each day’s activities.  I’m not one of those that goes to the after-conference gatherings to drink and socialize.  I’m much happier going out and taking a walk, sitting and enjoying the scenery or people-watching (doesn’t every author engage in people watching?), and decompressing for the day with a good book.

Something about traveling for my job, not only do I get to learn new things and network with colleagues from all over the country, but I get a lot of “thinking” time.  And thinking time can usually mean working on my novel in my head.

And I did a lot of that last week.  As I struggle with making my characters real, and building a story that gives those characters something to do, that thinking time is exactly what I need.  When I’m home, there is laundry, meals to be cooked, the television is blaring in the other room, my daughter may be (badly) practicing her flute.  There are phone calls to make, bills to pay, floors to mop, gardens to weed… One would think I could do some thinking while folding a load of warm towels fresh from the dryer, but apparently not.  I’m usually thinking about the next chore that needs to be done.

Away from home, my only concern is where I’m going to have dinner that night, and what time I should go to bed in order to be up at a reasonable hour the next morning for my next session.  No cleaning, no bed-making, no meal preparation.  Easy-peasy.

So my brain wanders off a lot.  What if the purposely distanced father decides he wants to have more to do with the daughter he abandoned all those years ago?  What if my artist heroine shows her obsession with the hero, the guy she has known most of her life, by putting his face in every mural she paints around town?  And that hero, a butcher, but also a musician, what would happen if he could hear the ghost that the heroine hears?  How would he react, and what would he do about it?  And could he give up his learned career to make music instead?

Plenty of puzzle pieces there to work with.  But with thinking time, those puzzle pieces are slowly falling into place.  Not forced, but by shaking everything out and seeing where it lands.  The puzzle pieces that don’t fit are slowly being discarded into the bag of Ideas For Another Novel.  As the puzzle pieces fall into place, a path becomes clear for me to write that story.

If you’re a working mom, how do you find your “thinking time?”  Do you fight with your puzzle pieces the way I do?  Tell me about it in the comments!

Oh, and just for your amusement…apparently this week one of the boats on the San Diego Pier lost control and crashed. I’m posting a video of it below.  This is the same place I was last week, and one of the boats in the background of the video (the Cabrille that you can see just to the right as the Hornblower is coming in fast) is the ferry boat I would take between the mainland and Coronado Island during the week.  Kinda scary stuff!

8 thoughts on “A Clear Head

  1. Susabelle – I saw that boat accident on the news. Wowza! I have no real problem with thinking time because my brain never shuts down. I have chronic insomnia so sometimes it’s 230 am and I’m in bed just “thinking” not sleeping. Many times I get up and put those thoughts to paper in the form of plot lines and dialogue. If I had my choice I would do a lot less thinking and whole lot more sleeping!

    • Peggy, I am a chronic insomniac and often sleep only 5 hours a night. And I don’t know why I can’t think when I’m doing chores, it would seem like a perfect time to think, but I realize my brain is busy working on the next thing on the to-do list. If I could figure out how to break that habit, it would be awesome!

  2. I struggle with this. My day job is demanding and I have 3 kids with lots of activities. I’ve turned into a night owl in order to write anything. It’s been hard but there is nothing more rewarding that having your work published and read.

    • Amanda, I know how it is. My job is very demanding and a lot is expected of me, plus I have a killer commute, which saps my energy. Then there’s the kid at home (I have two already grown, yay!) and all the stuff a mom and wife does to keep a household running (my husband is not a great partner when it comes to getting the housework done). But I am so tired come 10 p.m., I’m just busy getting ready for bed. But I don’t sleep much, so I’m usually up by 4 a.m., doing chores or trying to finish a project. The writing, unfortunately, seems to always end up on the back burner!

  3. You allowed yourself some “me” time in San Diego Susabelle. And like most that’s when your ideas started flowing. I do get some inspiration doing chores especially folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher. Never loading it or washing pots and pans. That’s when I’m usually cursing out the need for all of the dishes and pans and wondering why the other cooks at home didn’t wash them!
    When I walk I often have a question in my head about a story and I keep repeating the problem to myself and possible solutions. I’m from New York City so I am just one of the multitudes walking around talking to themselves. LOL

  4. Susabelle, I honor your commitment to maintaining a writing life with all of your day to day happenings. I really believe you have to give yourself a lot of credit for continuing to follow your writing passion and know that time will eventually give you some more places to pause and clear your head.

    • DeeDee, I’ve recently taken hard look at how I am sabotaging myself and not getting word count when I should. This pas weekend was an eye-opener, because I found the time to write about 2300 words over three days. Not fast, but the writing is good, rather than just hurry-and-type-any-word type drafts. I’ve always expected 4-5,00 word days from myself, but haven’t been able to do that in several years. So, taking a different approach. I still want to be writing, and I need to let up the pressure on myself for wordcount and stop beating myself up when I don’t make it.

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