In reading Christa Miller's post about repeating stories, I was reminded of something that happened over the weekend. (Advance apologies to those who've already read my blog, but this is seriously haunting me and I need some advice.)

So I'm into my conversion of EL REY from script to novel form, hoping to iron out the kinks in the story whilst doing so, and my imagination stalls on me, taking me back in time to the not-so-salad-days of HEREAFTER, a story I wrote when I was feeling pretty low and overdosing on Dashiell Hammett/Clive Barker. I'm chalking this moment up to just being another angle of attack from the demon known as Procrastination (kind of like blogging), but I couldn't help getting lost in that story again for quite a while and how good it COULD be. The character of private eye Frank Valen is nothing new to the genre of crime fiction (he's basically Mike Hammer in the abyssmal 1st draft) but the setting of the story should more than make up for it. There's just so much possibility to the idea, and I've always thought that if the story haunts you this hard, you HAVE to see it through or you'll go nuts. I can seriously see a series of books coming out of this. But how the hell do I find the time, short of not ever sleeping and/or alienating my family? I feel like I should write EL REY in the day and HEREAFTER in the night, given the darkness that surrounds the story, but I know I'm biting off more than I can chew already with one novel in the works and I'd probably end up losing my mind anyway.

Any advice? How do you balance the demands of life with the seductive call of the siren/muse? I know this is not a new question by any means. I've read Walter Moseley's book and I do "write every day," but it never seems to be enough time.

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I have a whole blog about the writing/family balance. Funny thing is, I never seem to have enough time to update it more than once every week or two. ;)

What I usually do is tell my husband, "Look. I HAVE TO work this weekend. What can you do to help me out?" Usually he has to take the kids somewhere, even outside for a few hours (older boy plays, baby boy naps in his stroller). It's never quite enough to do everything, but it's enough to make a dent. Once I've made a dent, it's easier to return to that project when I have a few minutes later in the week.

I think first draft is the easiest stage of all to do something else: have several projects going simultaneously. I have a handful of short stories, a longer project that may be either a short story or a novella, and a novel. I work on them either when I'm motivated to get a short story finished, or when a flash of inspiration strikes. The possible novella is making good headway like this.

It's harder when I hit revisions because I like to have more time and energy to chew on things, rather than doing revisions in short bursts when I may not be able to follow ideas through. I'm not sure if this is something I have to learn to manage, or something I have to ride out until both kids are in school! (Which is a few years off.)

Bottom line, if I'm really champing at the bit to work on something, I ask my husband for time. Usually he's happy to comply and I only really need a day and a couple of evenings of intensive work. Then I pay him back with a date, or pay the family back by going someplace fun.

I know that's probably all over the place, but so is my process. As long as things are getting done, I don't think so much about the means....
I agree with Christa in that having several projects underway, no matter what their level of progress may be can be helpful. I read the autobiography of Ronald Woolf, and he suggested that it is usually a good idea to have something to fall back on, if the ideas begin to dry up for the 'job' you're currently working on.
Like Christa, I have a few crime stories on the go, amongst other genres, and coupled with my comedy plays (which are quite prolific!), I wish there were more hours in the day. Yet I'm lucky in the sense that I live by myself, so I don't have family 'distractions'!
Even so, some of my earlier work remains in my mind, and I know that some day I'll have to get back to it, and do some major renovations to it, before I re-submit it to agents.
I totally agree with your philosophy Angela, and I abide by that self-imposed 'doctrine', especially where making long-hand notes are concerned! I have many notebooks and sheets of A4 paper scattered around my 'office', with ideas for new projects, as well as thoughts for already completed work, in case I get around to a re-write, and decide to include any of the notes I've made.
So much for saving the trees!


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