I am absolutely delighted to welcome Strange Chemistry Author,Rachel Neumeier to the blog today to share a Guest Post on Striking the Balance Between Writing and Life.
Rachel's Young Adult Urban Fantasy/Paranormal novel, Black Dog was released on the 6th of February 2014 by Strange Chemistry!
So without further ado let me turn the blog over to Rachel....
Striking the Balance Between Writing and Life
Once during a panel at a convention, one of the panelists asked everyone who was a professional writer to raise their hands. A lot of people in the audience raised theirs, including me. Then she asked everyone to keep their hands up if they made a point of writing every day. I was the only one who put my hand down.
Obviously that panelist was making the point that Real Writers make time to write every single day without fail, and I’m sure that’s the message that all the non-writers in the audience got. But I definitely don’t write every day – not even close. When I’m actively working on a new book, I do write every single day, or nearly. But when I’m not, I can go months without writing at all, not counting blog posts and things like that. It’s during that time off that I read most of the fiction I get through in a year, so taking a break is something I really look forward to! It’s also during that time off that I unfold the rest of my life.
I usually try to get a lot of writing done over Christmas break, and in the summer months when I work fewer hours. But during other times of year, deadlines permitting, I may have other priorities. Many writers balance their lives differently, obviously, but in April and May, I will probably not be doing a lot of writing. I will be setting out the flower and vegetable seedlings I started in late winter, transplanting rooted cuttings from my nursery bed, buying and planting anything I haven’t started myself, and diving into the hundred and one other urgent garden tasks.
Of all plants, I love trees and shrubs the best. Last year I rooted cuttings of some of my favorite woody shrubs, including Magnolia ‘Ann.’ Two out of six rooted. It’s been a vicious winter, but hopefully these babies will survive and leaf out in spring. Though I won’t need to transplant them just yet; they can stay right where they are in the nursery bed another year. Yes, it would be quicker to buy three-foot-tall magnolias from a nursery, but not only are cuttings free, there is a special charm in watching inch-tall babies turn into stocky little shrubs as high as your knee, and eventually grow into small trees. Not everything you try in a garden works (I’m sure the gardeners among you are rolling your eyes and nodding). I’ve learned not to plant roses here; they nearly all die of rose rosette disease. Last fall I tore out the struggling remnants of the rugosa roses in front of my house – with a pang, yes, because for several years they were beautiful. But I’m looking forward to replacing them with a mix of shrubs and big grasses that I hope will be tougher: Crape myrtle, sterile ever-flowering buddleia, viburnums, miscanthus grasses. I hope some of those plants will thrive and be there for decades!
Spring isn’t the only time when the endless press of gardening chores encourages me to take a break from writing. In the fall, I’m often traveling on more weekends than not, hitting one dog show after another. Some people hire professional handlers, but I show my dogs myself, which means a lot of time on the road. I’m grateful for audiobooks for all that driving!
During 2014, I hope to finish championships on two of my girls who earned their majors last year and now just need a lot of single points to finish. Plus, with luck, I ought to have one or two nice puppies to bring out in the puppy classes. Of course puppies can be fun, but let me tell you, they can also be a serious commitment of time and emotional energy. I don’t mean training; I think Cavaliers are very easy to train! But as I write this, I’m sitting in the puppy room, keeping an eye on a litter of five-day-old puppies. One is not thriving – he is not nursing well, though he doesn’t appear ill. I’m working hard with glucose and formula to get him over this hump, if I can. This kind of uncertainty makes it hard to concentrate on other things. Hopefully he will get turned around in the next day or two! But I will not be working on the new project I have lined up until this situation resolves one way or the other. Which is all right; there’s time, that deadline is not looming! But this is just one of those times that your Real Work seems much less stressful than your hobbies.
I do have one or two . . . or three . . . projects lined up for the year, not counting the sequel to BLACK DOG, which is so nearly finished that I will probably be sending to my editor toward the end of the week. So I’ll hope for a cool, wet summer where nothing requires extra water, and for my girls to finish their championships quickly, and most of all for thriving, happy puppies!
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