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The massively talented gals at Pens Fatales were nice enough to post this article last month. Here it is again in case you missed it. I would love to hear your strategies for carving out writing time.
I hear it from emerging writers all the time. I’ve got a great idea for a novel. I’m going to sit down and write it as soon as I…
…get my day job under control
…get my final kid into kindergarten
…out of jail
…get my finances in order
…fix my marriage
…finish painting the house
…pay off the car
…clean the can opener
…clean the rain gutters
…get the puppy housebroken
…retire from my job
…finish watching the third season of “Weeds”
…get my Bachelor’s…Master’s…PhD…LLB…MD
…pay off my student loans
…read all the Stephanie Plum books
…check in with my nineteen thousand Facebook friends
…upgrade my computer
…landscape the yard
…take a vacation
…host my book group
…teach my teenager to drive
…finish knitting this sweater
…forgive my parents
…get over my fear of failure
…get over my fear of success
…get permission from my parents/spouse/children/therapist
…hire an agent
…learn to use the subjunctive case
…stop smoking/drinking/playing online games
…figure out the business of publishing
…lose 20 pounds so I look good in my author photo…
You name it, and a procrastinating writer has said it.
Here’s a dirty little secret. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the cruel reality is this. There will never be a good time to write.
Life will always intrude. That’s what life is. Be glad for that. If you have no life, you have nothing to write about.
The good news is, there’s a simple solution. Make time for the things that are important to you. If writing your story is important, make time for it. Simple as that. Turn off the TV, leave the dishes undone, close your e-mail, grab a notebook and pen, and tell your family, “Don’t interrupt me unless your eyes are bleeding.” You’ll be surprised by the respect they give you.
The way you spend your day is the way you spend your life. So quit being your own worst enemy and start being your own best friend. Make time to write, even if you don’t have time.
Susan Wiggs’s life is all about family, friends…and fiction. She lives at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers’ group in a 17-foot motorboat. She’s been featured in the national media, including NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” and her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have made national bestseller lists, including the USA Today, Washington Post and New York Times lists.
The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. Her latest novel, now available, is called Lakeshore Christmas. Readers can learn more on the web at www.susanwiggs.com and on her lively blog at www.susanwiggs.wordpress.com.
I love when people ask me questions about books, writing and reading.
10 Questions for Susan Wiggs
1. What was your favorite book as a child?
SW: I loved so many books as a child, it’s hard to narrow it down. Yertle the Turtle by Dr Seuss was the first I bought with my own money. I sobbed over You Were Princess Last Time about a girl whose mean sister cut off her long, beautiful hair (I had long, beautiful hair.). Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White was one I read again and again. The whole world is in that book–life, death, friendship, family, loyalty, humor, pathos, suspense, drama and an uplifting ending…everything I hope readers find in my own books.
2. What is your favorite book right now?
SW: An unfinished novel called Daisy+Logan+Julian, by my favorite author (me). I’m not being facetious; I really do love this book and I’ve wanted to write it for a long time. It’s about continuing characters from past books, and I can’t wait to write their story. But I do have to wait, because I have other deadlines to meet. Soon, though!
3. What book do you like to give away as a present?
SW: I Like You by Amy Sedaris–it’s everyone’s childhood in one big, funny book. Meeting God In Quiet Places by F. LaGarde Smith is a comforting book about walking, meditation and prayer. And Literary Feasts, a cookbook with photos and recipes by famous authors with an intro by chef Greg Atkinson; the proceeds go to raise money for libraries.
4. What book are you reading right now?
SW: The Reserve by Russell Banks, about privileged families at an Adirondack Mountain retreat in the 1930s. It’s wonderful! And Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, who passed away suddenly this August. Wonderful book on storytelling.
5. What book have you always wanted to read, but haven’t yet gotten around to?
SW: The da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I believe I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t read it yet.
6. What book would you have liked to have written yourself?
SW: Same answer as #2 above–the book about Daisy from my series, The Lakeshore Chronicles. I wish I was already done with that book! I feel so much pressure to do a good job, I’m almost afraid to start it. I don’t want my readers to feel let down.
7. What book (not your own) should have made the bestseller lists?
SW: Love in Bloom by Sheila Roberts–a book about all the loves that fill a woman’s life. It’s wonderful, the kind of novel you want to share with all the women you know. And Oxygen by Carol Cassella, an absorbing page-turner with a huge heart and many intriguing twists. Both books deserve a wide audience. In the children’s arena, Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee and Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors should have been bestsellers.
8. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
SW: David Copperfield (I’m a sucker for writers in novels), Huckleberry Finn, Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo) and Frodo Underhill from The Lord of the Rings. All of them were such strivers; they never gave up. My favorite romantic hero is (no surprise) Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Restraint can be so sexy. I wish someone would explain that to Barkis.
9. Who is your favorite fictional heroine?
SW: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh–she inspired me to be a writer. Jo March from Little Women –another writer who never gave up on her dream, even when her bratty sister burned her manuscript. I cried harder then than I did when Beth died! And Jane Eyre, who never gave up on love.
10. What is your “guilty” reading pleasure?
SW: I never, ever feel guilty about reading anything. All reading is good. Books that are dismissed as frivolous by some readers can be life-changing for others, so I would never want anyone to feel guilty for reading anything. I sure don’t!
Next time I have the noive to complain about my job, I hope you will remind me of days like this:
Coffee on the patio with my editor while her children (including the large one known as a “husband”) are swimming, beachcoming, hiking, biking, harrassing the dog, building fires, eating smores and practicing general mayhem. Later, they will be treated to a scenic flight from our beach to Snoqualmie Falls, Bill Gates’s house and interesting places in between.
We were having some big ideas, along with the French Roast and smoked salmon.
Some days there is more to writing than W-R-I-T-I-N-G.
Would you please check out this training treat pouch? My friend Liz knitted it. Yes. KNITTED it. In a seed stitch pattern. She writes as well as she knits, too. I adore writers who knit. So does Barkis.
It looks much too cute to be filled with chopped up hot dogs, but hey. I didn’t make the rules.
(If you look carefully at the background, you’ll see a few of the ways we spoil Barkis. Double-mattress bed, check. Garden view accommodations, check. Reading material–including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime–check. Plaid fleece blanket, check…)
So the counselor at Ivers J. Norton Elementary School wrote to me about the school’s 100th anniversary celebration. Today, they’re honoring former staff members at the school in a small town in Western New York. I was asked to share some of my memories of the school, which I attended in the late ’60s. Here are a few: