Sunday, August 21, 2011

Starting Fresh

While it's still summer for most of you, in Arizona school has been in session for a few weeks now. It's been exhausting/hectic getting back into the swing of waking up insanely early and walking back and forth to school in the lovely Arizona August heat (oh, and a few crazy monsoon storms that decided to dump tons of rain, wind, and hail on us just as soon as I walked out of my house to go to school pick-up. Did I mention, we WALK to school here?!)

Anyway, something happened this year, that hasn't happened to me in, well, it's been so many years I honestly can't remember. My youngest child started preschool, and so for the first time, both of my kids are in school for some portion of the day most days of the week. In short: I get about three hours to myself. All to myself. Here's that thing I haven't experienced in years: quiet.

My writing career didn't really "officially" start until after I had kids (i.e. I didn't actually get a book contract with a publisher until just after kidlet two was born.) So that means my books were written in the in-between spaces. In between taking care of the kids, teaching a few classes, and just life in general. The majority of my words came during daily afternoon naptimes, at night after the kids went to bed or early mornings on the weekends. I never had a nanny or someone to watch my kids during the day, and I enjoyed the fact that writing allowed me to spend lots of time with them. But also, I learned to write quickly, to economize my time and my words, because really, I had no other choice.

Then, a few weeks ago. I walked back into my house after dropping both kids at school. Quiet. Three empty hours in the morning where I could write. In Quiet.

I sat down at the kitchen table with my laptop and a cup of coffee and opened up my current WIP. (Notice, I did not even consider that I should empty my dishwasher or clean up from breakfast. No, I just shoved the mess aside, and plunked the laptop down on the table!). Anyway, about the WIP, I'd been wavering on it for most of the summer: should I finish it or shouldn't I? Was it too small? Did it need something else? Did it have too much? After about an hour of that aforementioned quiet, I suddenly knew exactly what I needed to do with the book and where to take it. I also knew, that maybe I shouldn't do it right now, that maybe I should let it simmer in the back of my brain for a bit. There was something else I'd been thinking about writing for a while, but I didn't know much about it. The thought of writing it honestly had always felt exhausting, because I knew there would be a lot of research involved. But then, there I was again. It was quiet. And that previously insurmountable research felt like it might even be fun.

So all of us here in my household are starting fresh: my kidlets at school, my husband (a teacher) back at work. And me, with a new project ahead of me. I've been so excited about it these last few weeks, I can barely contain myself. In fact I have not been THIS excited about a project in some time. Maybe it's the quiet, the space to think, the space I now have to do something I might have once considered too much. But in any case, here's to quiet and fresh starts! How's your August shaping up?