Friday, January 13, 2006

A Process Emerges

I'm starting to realize that with each book I may have an entirely different process, and that's okay. The trick is figuring out what the process is going to be, and then finding a way to maximize it.

One example: On the last book I wrote, the magic hour at which my brain seemed to kick into gear and decide to write was three in the afternoon. No matter how much I tried to work earlier than that, nothing of value got done until three. Then I wrote until after six and maybe some a little later in the evening if I felt like it.

On this book, I've figured out that the magic hour seems to be ten at night. I seem to be able to revise, edit, brainstorm and rework other stuff earlier in the day, and I can even force myself to write, but the words really start flowing at ten. That might explain why in the early going I was struggling so much. I was sitting down at three to write, thinking that was work time, and nothing was happening, and then I'd get frustrated and call it a night. I was getting ready for bed and reading or relaxing at the time when my brain was ready to work (which could also explain why I've been having such a hard time getting to sleep -- my brain had tipped over into work mode).

I guess I'm a little bit mired in the corporate mindset and the old "early to bed, early to rise" work ethic, because I still catch myself feeling bad about sleeping as late as I have been recently. But you know, if I'm working until one in the morning, sleeping until ten isn't excessive. And why should work done in the morning be any more diligent or superior to work done at other times of the day? It's not as though I'm reporting to anyone or supposed to be at a meeting. I'm not missing anything.

The only problem is that this is messing up my eating schedule. When I sleep so late, I'm certainly not ready for lunch at the usual lunchtime, which comes fast on the heels of my breakfast. Which then means I'm starving at dinnertime, and then hungry again very late at night. I guess that's okay, too. I've started cooking actual big meals at dinnertime to make up for the light-to-non-existent lunches. Last night I made German food -- or as close as I could get to German food using American ingredients and vague recollections of processes. I suppose that actually made it Norwegian food, since I'm Norwegian and I was cooking it. In a way, everything I cook is Norwegian food, which means I can make a killer Norwegian lasagna. (Technically, I'm more Irish than Norwegian, in spite of the last name, but "Norwegian lasagna" is funnier than "Irish lasagna." And I've just realized that I don't know the first thing about Norwegian food, but I can make good Irish soda bread. Mostly, my native ethnic food would be Southern.) So, anyway, I had schnitzel and fried potatoes and I even had some German wine.

Back to the processes ... I've decided to just go with it. I'm going to stop getting frustrated when my brain isn't working at three because I know it will kick in later. I'm going to continue tinkering with the book as I go instead of writing straight through, because that's how it's happening. I'll even keep eating breakfast, dinner and late-night snack as my three meals of the day.

Last night I rewrote a lot of chapter eleven, revised chapter twelve and moved the chapter break around, finished chapter thirteen and started chapter fourteen. I think thirteen may be one of those that gets rewritten a lot, but at least I've got a placeholder in there now. I suspect the beginning of fourteen will have to be jazzed up some, but first I have to get the basic dialogue in before I can add action and funny. Then I reached the end of what I knew to do, and my headlights refused to reach any farther, so I'm going to have to do some thinking and planning today. I may also have to flip through my Shakespeare: The Complete Works because I'm trying to plan a themed New Year's Eve party and haven't decided if I want to go with The Tempest or A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Weird, in spite of knowing all that stuff about how I work, I'm still getting that "I need to get to work soon!" voice in the back of my head as I see three approaching.

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