Thursday, May 22, 2008


What a difference a day makes. I don't really allow myself to have "bad" days any more. However, some days are definitely more challenging than others. Tuesday was one of those days. As I write this blog post late Wednesday, today was definitely more to my liking! My older dog who has had some rough times lately seemed better today. There's money in my bank account and bills are paid ahead. I got the OK for the cover of my December release (graphic attached). And one wall of my office is covered with easel sheets showing the early planning for my next series of books. Ahhh...

We've heard a lot about writer's block, what what about life block? What about those days when life hands you challenge after challenge; taunting you to take another step, let alone dare to dream?

How do you work through those days? Just hang on and hope it will pass quickly? Sprinkle fairy dust around yourself and chant three times, "Bippity, boppity, boo?" Pretend you are on the latest reality TV show and plan how you will spend your million dollars at the end of the day when you are the last survivor?

On the other hand, what's your perfect day? Is it a day when you can write all day? A day when all the pieces of your life, including writing, come into perfect balance?

Have you ever considered doing this for the characters in your story? This could be a great way to get to know them if you're just starting a story or are stuck at some point. It could also be an interesting way to bring out their personalities for readers. For the social worker heroine in one of the books of my series, her perfect day could mean all the parents of kids in foster care suddenly had their own lives under control so they could nurture and appropriately take care of their children; and she could go home early because no calls of child abuse or neglect came in. For the policeman hero, his perfectly awful day could include finding a ticket on his motorcycle he thought was parked legally. Does he get mad? Ignore it? Laugh at the irony of the situation?

In fact, I think I'll do this for the main characters in each of the stories I'm planning. These perfect days and perfectly awful days could even become part of their stories. Perhaps I'll develop a workshop using this technique. If you want to try it out, consider this a mini-online workshop and do one of these exercises for yourself or your characters. Have fun!


Alice Sharpe said...

Genene -- your new cover is beautiful. I love the blue, it's a real eye catcher.

You said: "We've heard a lot about writer's block, what what about life block? What about those days when life hands you challenge after challenge; taunting you to take another step, let alone dare to dream?"

That's what I was trying to talk about yesterday. I just didn't have a catchy phrase (leave it to you to come up with one...) Life block, that pesky situation where your life require you be present within its reality, blocking your way to that quiet place you need to write.

I do what probably everyone else does. I grit my teeth, take care of business, resent the intrusions and ultimately get back to work.

A perfect day for me is going to include my family, not writing. So a perfect writing day for me is going to be one in which I figure out the puzzle that's been keeping me awake at night, when I stop chasing my tail and know what's going to come next. The moment it snaps together and my fingers can barely keep up with my ideas. That is writer nirvana, for me.

An awful writing day is going to include copyedits or the dreaded author alterations stuff -- busy work. Throw in some kind of self promotion and top it off with a recalcitrant plot. Ack!

I don't know my characters well enough yet to give them perfect and awful days beyond the things we all hate. Congrats on having your life in order.

Fun blog!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Great cover, Genene! I got you all hooked up on the sidebar this morning.

As the hero in my current wip was a secondary character in an earlier book, I think I have a pretty good handle on him. And I was going to say his idea of a perfect day would be a sizzling beach, any woman who's not blond and a cold bottle of beer. But, of course, that's not his true version of a perfect day, and as I got to thinking about this I was wondering, do we ever know our ideal version of that perfect day?

Last year before the DH and I went on vacation, I was dying for alone time. To be able to plunk myself down on a warm beach with a good book, no writing deadlines and no little hands pulling on my arm, asking for food or drinks or to play Uno with them for the ten-thousandth time? My own personal version of Heaven. But when we got to that perfect paradise and I had my comfy lounge chair, the new novel I'd waited months to read, a refreshing drink and a picturesque view, I found I had trouble relaxing. I kept watching families on the beach down from us, kids playing in the surf, mothers running after them afraid their child would be whisked out to sea, fathers tossing footballs in the sand with their kids...and I realized my version of that perfect day wasn't what I thought it was. Oh, don't get me wrong, I had a great time and I DID enjoy my time away (am even planning more this year to recharge my batteries) but that "perfect day" seems to always be evolving in my mind, and honestly, I'm not entirely sure there is such a thing. I'm sure if I had the "perfect writing day" as Alice described, I would quickly become bored. Part of the reason I love writing is because it's a challenge. When that's gone??? Time for me to move on. Considering how challenging this business is though, I don't forsee that ever happening.

Yesterday Wavy commented that crazy-busy writers tend to be very prolific. While I don't think you have to be crazy-busy to BE successful and prolific, I do think chaos can sometimes cement your goals and choices. When your writing time is extremely limited by distractions - as mine is - you have to make tough choices about how and when you'll get your writing in. And you quickly find out if your goals are as important to you as you think they are. Since I don't have 8 uninterrupted hours to write and think and work through my books and characters, I have to make serious use of that time when I *can* sit at the computer uninterrupted.

I think I got off topic. LOL. Great post, Genene! And I too want to hear about your spiritual journey and how it's changed your writing.

Paty Jager said...

Cute cover, Genene!

The perfect day for me would be a balance of writing, editing, riding my horse, baking, housework, and spending time with family. Since I always seem to be scrunching things in and most of the time leaving out one of the above to get to the others.

The perfect day for my current heroine would be accomplishing an assignment, finding her father, and having her mother enter the real world.

Her worse day would be having someone see through her disguise, finding out her father is a cad, that her mother had been lying to her and herself all these years, and falling in love.

Great blog!

Genene Valleau said...

unThanks to all for the kudos on the cover. I enjoy doing that part of the creative process.

Alice, I had to chuckle at your congrats on having my life in order. Just when I think I'm getting it together, I find something under my desk like I did last night. (That something was a "present" from one of my dogs who must have decided the weather wasn't to his liking and he wasn't going outside to do his bathroom business.) Life -- mine anyway -- has a way of keeping me humble. But maybe I'm learning to fake having it together pretty well, at least at times!

Love your image of your fingers barely keeping up with the ideas. Wow!

Eli, your comment about a "perfect" day constantly evolving is so on target. So is the fact that being crazy-busy forces you to choose your priorities. Anything that isn't a top priority drops off "the list."

Paty, you know your heroine so well! Like Alice, I'm not far enough along on most of my stories to know the characters that well. But I'll get there.

And it sounds like your perfect "day" would have to be a week long to fit everything in. Maybe that's what we need -- longer days!

Genene Valleau said...

P.S. Don't know where the "unThanks" came from. Musta been typing gremlins -- that's NOT what I typed, honest!

Thanks also, Eli, for posting my new cover so quickly.

(See, just "thanks," no "unthanks." Good grief!)

Karen Duvall said...

I agree with everyone else, Genene, that your cover is adorable! Such a pretty blue.

I had a perfect day not too long ago, and it wasn't planned, and I didn't know it would be perfect until it happened. I even blogged about it. It was so mundane that it really makes me wonder about myself. I think it was a mood thing, and a luck thing, and just a general "ahhhh" kind of day. Nothing special happened. Maybe that's what made it perfect?

I like stringing all the good little things together in one day: a happy client, a warm kitty in my lap, a fun email exchange with friends, a productive hour of writing when my characters do something to surprise me, no hot flashes, and a cheerful husband. Oh, and maybe a really good movie late at night. I'd say add a glass of pinot grigio in there, but I'm off the vino until I get my weight back under control. Don't want to tempt myself.

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Karen!

Your perfect day sounds "perfect." Perhaps not so mundane as relaxing and replenishing to your soul. Thanks for sharing!