I’m in Los Angeles to join a Pi Phi alumni group tonight. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details—i.e., is this a book club, or just an alumni group? And are we discussing The Frog Prince, or the writing life? Fortunately I’ve learned to wing it pretty well–those 6+ years of teaching have come in handy — and between speaking and writing and blogging, I’m comfortable talking about anything.
My sister is going with me tonight and I always feel better if there is at least one friendly face I know. A friend, my mom, my sister… someone that knew me before I became an author, someone that knows I get nervous but mask it behind the mega-watt smile and buzz of energy.
The speaking and workshop giving requires a different energy than writing and I never do the two activities very well at the same time. Before I wrote for two publishers, I tried to juggle the speaking engagements around the writing deadlines. That doesn’t work as well anymore as I always have a deadline now. So to help me get my focus, and meet some of those deadlines, I’m cutting back on travel and speaking for the next nine months. After LA, I head to Virginia for the weekend, and then it’s home through the Christmas holidays and into the new year.
People frequently ask how I’ve maintained my schedule — the traveling and writing and speaking, especially now that I’m a single mom — and the truth is, it’s nerves and coffee and adrenaline. It’s learning how to pack (I’d like to say light, but that’s not true. It’s just routine. I know what and how to pack and always have a small suitcase ready to go for weekend trips and conferences). It’s online banking. It’s online shopping. It’s emails and cell phone and an incredibly skilled web team behind me with Emily Cotler and crew at www.waxcreative.com.
The other thing I do — or have done — is just push, and not think. Push, and not dwell. Push, and not remember. But that in itself is exhausting. I finish work late the night before a trip, set my alarm for a five- or four-thirty a.m. wake up call, get to the airport in a sleep deprived blur, crash on the plane, deplane, caffeinate, function, crash at hotel or home, and so on. I check my cell phone for messages, check email for updates, check in with kids, and not think about what’s due, what’s next, what hurts, or otherwise I would be overwhelmed. I’m *not* a superwoman, and not remotely heroic. I just push hard. Sometimes too hard. Which is why I’m backing off and slowing down and staying home and getting ready to write more.
I miss words. I miss the stories. I miss the real part of writing. The getting it down on paper.