All right, I confess, I don’t write every day. Some days I’m working on schedules and how to manage my time and talking to a bookstore or about an event or signing a book someone has sent me in the mail for a Mother’s Day present. I’m tending the dogs, the goat, and my husband (not in that order). But while I’m doing “things” I think of myself as “writing”. This is probably a fallacy that will one day be revealed to me, but when I’m getting the goat off of the front deck where he arrived because someone left the gate open, I’m imagining how my character dealt with such everyday trials.
I’m wondering how frustrated she got when in 1855 her goat got loose and headed up to higher ground (they like to climb) just when she needed to be changing the baby or had her hands full of hot laundry being lifted from steaming water into a rinse tub. If she wanted to be an artist, a writer, a musician, did she ever have the time? Did every day things get in her way? And how will I write of those ways when I sit at my computer next?
I do write nearly every day when I’m in my “writing” phase rather than my “researching” phase even though those overlap. I’m at the computer by 9, take a break for lunch and return until 5:00. Then I write my blog contributions like this one or answer emails. But always, my most recent characters are on my mind. In my “researching/promoting phase” I’m making notes, thinking, but not putting fingers to keyboard. Still, the characters are always with me informing my current life while I probe their historical ones.
One Sunday morning in my writing phase I rose early to finish a book before I went to church with my husband. The book was Mystic Sweet Communion and it was about a Florida woman, the first teacher to come to South Florida in 1890, and her life and her commitment to her younger brothers and sisters as well as to many causes she was passionate about, including negotiating the treaty between the Seminole nation and the Federal Government when the tribe was being overrun in the Everglades by people moving south. (The Fort Lauderdale area tribe that just bought the Hard Rock Café franchise is the band of Seminole that this woman negotiated that treaty for. History propels itself into the present. I digress).
Anyway, I’d finished the book about Ivy and her sister Pink, and I remember getting dressed and wondering to myself if I’d see them at church that morning. It was the most natural thing in the world to think since Ivy did attend church and even took on some church authorities at one point.
But then it occurred to me that these people were dead and I was hoping to see dead people. (Wasn’t there a movie based on that premise….).
So I had to do a reality check and remind myself that there is a writing life and there is my life and while they intersect, they are separate. Still I am never less alone in what is called a lonely writer’s life than when I am writing, for I have a world of imaginary beings who keep me company. Sometimes they even remind me that they’re fiction and tell me to go fix dinner for my husband.
Jane Kirkpatrick, www.jkbooks.com who is in her promoting phase for A Tendering in the Storm, her latest novel from WaterBrook Press.