Tag: stress


Writing during the holidays

Guess what? The holidays are a tricky time to keep writing. There are parties, families, family parties, work deadlines, crowds, presents. Snow. Holiday euphoria or holiday depression. School vacation days. And blog post deadlines (which I missed. Which is why this is a day late and in the wrong font and missing two Miss Demeanors.) So I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors how they kept their writing schedule going during the holidays. Did they put themselves on hiatus or did they keep going? This is what they said:   Michele:   One of the unfortunate things about practicing family law is dealing with how conflict within families escalates during the holidays. Who gets the kids for Christmas? How can I buy gifts if I’m not being paid support? It goes on and on, and frankly has dampened my holiday spirits over the years. One of the ways I have coped with this is to continue to write and crawl into the fictional world I control and that insulates me from the reality of human misery.    Sleep? I’ve been an insomniac since I was a child. Fortunately, some of my best ideas come in the middle of the night.    And that’s my Bah Humbug, I fear. Paula: I don’t know how you do it. I need at least eight hours of sleep a night or I am a walking nightmare. Alison: Count me with those who need sleep! My years of burning the candle at both ends are behind me. I have a deadline of December 21st for Abish Taylor #2 revisions, so I’m in the cave of re-writing. My life is pared down to the bare minimum of what absolutely must be done beyond writing. Under normal circumstances, I write Monday through Friday. Every day until I reach my word count. I have my weekly word count goal, so occasionally I will write on the weekends if I need to make up for a day. I do find, though, that my process differs depending on where I am in the process. I’ve experimented with a lot of different routines to find what lets me be my most productive. I’ll keep trying different things, I’m sure, because what works now may not work next year. Currently, having at least a day away from writing renews me. I once tried to work on one story during the week and a different one on the weekends, but I found that when I did that I lost the help of my subconscious brain, that part of my thinking that worked out plot problems and then suggested solutions while I was on a run, or in the shower, or falling asleep. You know, those flashes of insight that dance out of sight when you search for them, but magically appear when you don’t? Cate: I write every day still and I get less sleep. Less sleep is, more or less, my solution for everything. Robin: I’m sort of in Cate’s camp. I stay up later. But I try not to lose sleep – I’m a big baby if I don’t get enough rest. My lifestyle is such that I’m able to compensate most of the time by sleeping in a little later when I stay up later. I used to have to live and die by my meeting calendar, largely dictated by others, and, as a result, I got sick a lot during the holidays. Now that I don’t *have* to live that way, I try to take better care of myself. “Try,” because sometimes my internal clock doesn’t care if I planned on waking up later.  Paula:I work all the time. Finding time to write in between my swell day job as an agent and traveling and family is the hard part. I just got back my notes from my editor for Book 2 so I have some work to do that must happen over the holidays. I have no idea how I’ll do it. Probably on planes, trains, buses, and automobiles.   Looks like we’re a pretty hard-working bunch.  How about you, friends. What do you do?

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It's What's for Dinner

 I missed putting up a blog post today because the past 48 hours felt more like 400 hours. Food, sleep, and writing took a back seat to the day job, packaging gifts for my church’s angel tree, graduating from Citizens’ Police Academy, packing books to send to contest winners, and schlepping a twenty-two pound box to UPS to return a wrong order to Amazon so I could get a refund. Not to mention the usual stuff: feeding the cat, taking out garbage, checking email and voicemail and text messages to make sure I didn’t miss an appointment or deadline or bill due date, “maintaining my social media presence” (that phrase) to keep Facebook and Twitter from sending me gentle reminders about how followers of my author page/feed want to hear from me—you get the picture. I left the day job, late, today with a to-do list longer than it was when I arrived at the office this morning, which means an early start tomorrow to play catch-up.So what did I do when I finally got home tonight, besides say a prayer of thanks that the cat sitter rescheduled her meet-and-greet with Agatha? I headed for the local pizzeria for some comfort food. Yeah, I know “emotional” eating is bad for you but sometimes I don’t care. A meatball and sausage sandwich and a bowl of minestrone soup (loaded with vegetables, by the way) went a long way toward making up for a missed lunch and freezing temps. Food plays a big role in much crime fiction. From the culinary cozy subgenre’s recipes to Nero Wolfe’s epicurean meals to Agatha Christie’s frequent choice of a murder weapon, food appears in mysteries again and again. In her November 2016 article in The Guardian, “Dining With Death: Crime Fiction’s Long Affair With Food,” crime writer Miranda Carter lists several detectives known as much for what they eat as for the crimes they solve: the aforementioned, Nero Wolfe, Inspector Montalbano, Yashim, Pepe Carvalho, Inspector Maigret. Food puts in a more-than-passing appearance in Sherlock Holmes and Sam Spade stories. While Agatha Christie’s poison-laced morsels hardly qualify as comfort food, in many of the other crime stories meals form the center piece of pleasant rituals that provide the detective—and the reader—with temporary respite from the horrors and stress of their work. Like my meatballs, sausage, and minestrone. While my life is far from horrible, it is stressful. Some days I feel as if dozens of things are happening at once and I’m running from crisis to crisis until I reach a point where I can’t even remember what day it is. (On Tuesday, I felt as if, surely, it must be Friday.) I drag myself home, exhausted and cranky. But, with a good meal and an hour or so, I feel ready to take on the world again. What’s your favorite comfort food? How do you unwind after a stressful day?

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