December 19, 2004: Frampton Comes Alive (or The Epiphany of the Egg-Timer)

And now what? Why, write, of course.

There’s nothing else to do. My web designer is on tour (he’s a musician as well as being a web guy. And you thought these creative endeavors paid buckets of money!), my new editor hasn’t yet read my revisions, my photos still aren’t done and my son is still in school full-time.

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What else is there to do but write? Oh, some critics might point to our apartment’s general state of chaos and point out, gently of course, that I might want to busy myself with organizing our home office work space (have I mentioned my husband also works at home? In a Brooklyn apartment? With a five year-old? And all his toys? Fun!). Or perhaps spend some time with the living room closet, where the wrapping paper fights for space with the vacuum cleaner, and all of it falls on my head when I open the door. And those critics would be aghast at even mentioning the three me-sized stacks (5’6″) of romance paperbacks leaning in between our two bookcases.

So I write. I’m working on my second book, and so far have done three drafts of the first quarter of it. Each time I’ve presented pages to my agent, who has gently, but firmly, told me the problems with my story (I love my agent). Each time I’ve gone back and written new stuff. This time I think I’ve finally got it.

The only problem has been my ability to procrastinate. At hard writing times, even sorting through financial documents seems appealing. So I write a sentence, check my email, see if someone has posted to the AAR message boards in the past five minutes, go back into my document, futz around with my writing, rinse, repeat, ad nauseam. Until I’ve written maybe a couple of pages in the course of more hours than I should be sparing.

Until the egg-timer.

We bought it for my son, who seems to need gentle, timely reminders so he can transition from one task to another. It’s shaped like a ladybug and emits a stern, but still lady-like, bell. I started using it. Apparently I need gentle, timely reminders as well. I turn it to 15 minutes, and in that time, allow myself to do nothing but write. No tea breaks, no pee breaks, no email checks, no nothing. Writing. And, I’ve discovered, I am really productive when I am not screwing around. Funny, huh?

I’ve rewritten the first quarter of the book in a month. I hope to have a finished draft by the end of March.

My editor has promised to read my revisions during her holiday break (not much of a break for her, but she said she was looking forward to it.). I presume she’ll have some edits, hopefully minor, by which time I will also have a photo for the back cover and my web site. I sent off the brand-new pages to my agent, who will probably also have gotten back to me by the time I am done with the holidays. Then I’ll plunge back in and try to keep myself on course and finish this darn thing.

I’ve got ideas for new books buzzing around my head like an angry swarm of gnats. There’s the third book in what I grandly call the Lady Series (my first book is A Singular Lady; the second is False Lady; and no, I don’t know what the last will be called. Probably something with “Lady” in the title. Clever, huh?), a mommy-lit book and a vampire book that is just barely an idea. I feel like . . . a real writer.

But then I read those emails and blogs and message boards and essays where real writers, you know, the kind who’ve actually been published already, talk about their creative process and I feel like a dud all over again. Do I plot? Yeah, kind of. Am I a pantser? Sometimes. Do I just sit and write? Yes, always. And if it feels wrong, I rip it out.

Meanwhile, the egg-timer and I have entered a solemn pact. We will not rest until the other is finished.


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