I Need to Run to Write
I haven’t run in over two weeks. It’s pretty much killing me.
I’ve finally been sidelined by foot pain that the foot doc and the acupuncturist couldn’t fix. The only thing left to do is rest.
Not my strong suit.
My mind is spilling over with all manner of ideas-questions-dreams-stories-paranoias-fears-worries-odd thoughts.
Running dispels the crazies for me. It helps me process my life and find a balance between what is a good idea and what is me-being-nutso. It tamps down my fears, checks my anger, and gives me perspective into parts of my life and people that I was eyeballing under a microscope.
Bottom line- I need to run or I become that grumpy friend who doesn’t cooperate, that nagging wife who keeps to her side of the bed, and that overbearing mother who wants all the details. Ask my family. Ask my friends. Heck, ask my current foster dog – I need to run.
I’ve known for a long time that I need to run for my health and well-being, but these few weeks are confirming that I need to run for my writing, too.
Lately, when I sit down to write, the thoughts tumble out incomprehensibly. I can’t organize them. They spill over the page and when I re-read them I realize not only am I rambling, but the casual observer would wonder if English was even my first language. Story ideas zip past like clouds in a hurricane and I’m never able to grab ahold of them in time to get them on the page.
I feel scattered mentally. What was I about to google? Who did I mean to email? What was I going to write about? Which kid needs me to pick him up where? What did I volunteer to bake for which event? Who was Will Bailey on the West Wing again? He's doing a new podcast...
Tonight I start teaching an 8-week class on creative writing. I pulled out my syllabus to fine-tune it and was instantly distracted by multiple new ideas for writing exercises. I tried to scribble them all down. My mind ping-ponged between idea after idea. Ugh. Focus. Once I had tonight’s plan cemented (for the most part) in my mind, I glanced at next week’s. One note stuck out – repetitive physical exercise is great for allowing your mind time to play. Exactly. I teach that because I live that.
Sometimes the best thing a writer can do is go for a hike. Or wash the dishes. Or run the vacuum. When your body is busy, your mind can wander. I’ve had most of my best ideas at times other than when I sit in front of a keyboard and try to make it happen.
If I wasn’t convinced of this wisdom before this month, I am now – if you want to sort out a plot, imagine a new character, expand a fledgling idea, or find some writing inspiration – get moving. Get off your butt and let your mind move.
#amwriting #runningwriter #needtorun
We bought a new bed. I know, not so exciting for you, but still. When you consider how many hours of your life you spend in your bed, this is a big deal.
Not only did we buy a new bed, but I’m now sleeping on the other side.
For pretty much all our married life, I’ve slept on the right side. This was determined in our first house because I wanted to be closest to the bathroom (I’m a girl). And then it made sense because I was closest to the door – so the kids could reach me first. For some reason, that was a priority back in the day.
So, for twenty years I’ve slept on the right side. Neither of us gave it a thought – even when staying in hotels or friends’ houses, I always took to the right side of the bed.
But then we went on vacation in February and rented a lovely condo on the beach in Grand Cayman (to celebrate aforementioned twenty years). This condo was tastefully decorated and in the bedroom there were several breakable pieces of art teetering on a rickety corner cabinet and a dresser in this room with a ceramic tile floor (either they were cheap breakable pieces of art or we were the first people EVER to rent this condo). The bed was large and lovely and consumed most of the room. From the right side of the bed there was a long and winding path to the bathroom that took you past several of these pieces of art, plus a chair with corners. So, for the first time in my married life, I chose the LEFT side of the bed which had a direct path to the door/bathroom with nothing but my own feet to trip over or break (there was a step-down involved so this was still a distinct possibility).
Sleeping on the left side was odd. It felt novel and kind of fun. For a moment it seemed like I was sleeping with someone new – who is this guy on my left?
When we came home I decided to stay on the left. (We’re wild like that.) It still feels odd. But I like the new perspective.
Back to the new bed. I don’t like the bed. It doesn’t sit up high like the last bed. And it’s not soft and cushy. Plus, it’s a king size bed so sometimes I forget there’s anyone else in the bed with me.
I miss my comfy pillow-top, princess-height, queen size bed which now resides in my guest room. We had a guest last week and I was actually jealous that she got to sleep in it.
The new bed is fancy and modern and has all kinds of high-tech features. When we were picking it out, we had to lie on a “sleep evaluator” which recommended the best bed for your size and sleep habits. Nick and I lay on the mock bed/sleep evaluator, completely dressed while it took measurements and the sales guy blabbered on about its amazing abilities. But here’s the only thing he said that I remember – “When you use this system to pick out your bed it comes with a 90-day money back guarantee.” As if anyone ever returns a king-size uber-fancy bed.
Sometimes when I wake up at night and can’t sleep because I’m on the wrong side, all alone, on this squatty hard bed, I think – I’m gonna haul this baby back TOMORROW!
But I don’t.
Because it’s supposed to be good for me, much like kale – which I’ve learned to love and now eat every week.
I’ve still got about 30 days to make my decision. Hubby says, “We can return it, but I like it.”
So it’s my problem. It’s my decision.
I’m weighing the options here. First there’s all those hours of my life spent on this bed which the sales guy says will last 30 years. That’s like 87,600 hours. Of. My. Life.
If it didn’t require two large men to move it, and I didn’t know they are legally obligated to throw it out, there would be no question.
A bed is a lot worse than a few plastic bags in terms of filling up the land fill.
Here’s hoping this bed is kale, because the clock is ticking, and the guy on my left is no help.
(When I started this post it was going to be about how sometimes when you get stuck writing, all you need is a new perspective, but somehow it has spiraled into my personal whine about my bed. Maybe I’m distracted?)
Here's Why I need YOUR Review
I used to be pretty hesitant to write book reviews. I mean, truly, reading is subjective. My definition of a great book is probably decidedly different than yours. Which is as it should be. Takes all kinds.
Only a few books are universally loved – and even those books aren’t universally loved. I’m thinking of the Harry Potter books (at least the first three), Charlotte’s Web, Skippy Jon Jones or most everything by Dr. Suess.
I racked my brain to think of adult books that are universally loved and as I thought of each one, the little negative nelly minion with the glasses and the clipboard on my shoulder said, “but, but, but…”
Some of the books I thought of were- Prayer for Owen Meany, She’s Come Undone, The Art of Racing in the Rain, or Life of Pi. I loved all those books and would put them in my top 30 (no WAY I could have a top 10). But some of you might have hated those books or some of you might read different genres and have never heard of them.
I admit to a rather narrow personal bookshelf. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy or science fiction. I’m curious about erotica, but have yet to explore it, and I truly do not understand poetry. I’ve never read a real horror book – I can’t handle the images. I find thriller books to be too intense for me – I can only read them in one sitting otherwise I stress about the situations too much, particularly when it involves children in danger. Although, I read Elizabeth Brundages, The Doctor’s Wife, obsessively, not even stopping to eat. I couldn’t not turn the page. Even mysteries are hard for me because I hate the not knowing, it irritates me. It’s generally my book club that pushes me out of my ruts. Mostly, I stick to literary fiction, historical fiction, womens fiction, occasional chicklit, memoir, and a smattering of young adult. I know, I should get out more. But there it is.
Back to my original point- reviews are subjective, but that’s no reason not to write them. As a writer, I depend on them. I’ve been trying to be better about asking people who read my books to review them. Asking people for anything makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I’m a product of my generation of women who think they can handle-anything-don’t-need-nothing-from-nobody.
But here’s the thing - I don’t care if you like my book or hated it or were somewhere in between, I need your review. The number of reviews impacts book sales, promotions, and whether or not Amazon will ever move my book above the YA book with the same title in the search results. More than that, it’s pretty much the only way other people can discover my book. When I’ve mentioned this at book clubs or workshops, people seem surprised. I don’t think the average reader realizes how important reviews are to authors. I know I didn’t.
Now, I review every book I read. I’m a team player as a writer and want to do everything I can to support other authors. We need each other. My reviews are nothing special, but I try to be honest. I try to write more of what I liked than didn’t like. I’ve discovered that I can find something nice to say about pretty much anything I read. That’s because I don’t read books I don’t like. If I’m not finding anything I can appreciate by page 50, I put the book down and move along. There’s too many others out there waiting to be read.
I don’t want to beg, but I can think of nothing I’d appreciate more from my readers than an honest review on Amazon or goodreads or ibooks or Barnes & Noble or BAM or any other site that sells books (you can even copy and paste the same review to all the sites – totally fine and I’ll even invite you over for fresh cookies and red wine if you do). It doesn’t have to be lengthy or fabulously written- simply heartfelt. So, here’s me asking – if you’ve read one of my books, please give it a review (or two).
Book Club Tour!
Tomorrow I hop on a plane for Florida!
I’m going to Tampa to meet with a book club that just finished reading, I’m Not Her.
Super excited because 1) I get to escape the impending snow/cold/winter misery and 2) I get to jump back into the world of Carin and Leann and 3) I get to meet some people who know Carin and Leann!
When I tell people I am flying to Florida to discuss my book, they are duly impressed. It sounds so huge, doesn’t it? Course it is.
There’s a standing offer on my website that I will fly anywhere to talk books as long as you’re buying the ticket. When I wrote that, I meant it, but I didn’t expect anyone to really take me up on it.
Now, here’s the thing, the people flying me down there are my father-in-law and his wife. I see you silently mouthing the words – oh, now I get it. But it’s just me- no grandkids, no son, just daughter-in-law. So, you know the book has something to do with it. I’m not that good company.
All of that aside, I’m still truly jazzed to be headed to Tampa. I love talking about my book and it always humbles me that other people like it. I practically swoon when they talk about my characters like they are our mutual friends. It’s one of the best things about being published and probably the best thing to me about being a writer.
The rest of the garbage- the rewriting, the editing, the promoting and promoting, the begging for reviews, the proofing- all of that (of which I am currently up to my neck) is the price you pay for the moment when someone says, “I loved your book,” or even better, “your book made me think.”
Next week I get to do it all over again with a book club on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, before meeting with a group right here in PA in April. I’m on a roll. It’s the only thing that’s keeping my head above water as I wrestle with the manuscript of my third book and gear up for the release of Girls’ Weekend in May.
Oh, and by the way, if you’d like a half-price copy of Girls’ Weekend, you can get one if you order the ebook version before May 2. The offer only extends to ebooks, but the paper version is available for preorder now, too. (I’m a paper girl, myself.)
p.s. the picture above is my own illustrious book club