Into the Wild: An Extroverted Introvert's Day Out

I’ve been delinquent in keeping up with my blog posts as of late, while on the heels of three new book releases. I still have a topic floating in the back of my mind about “Life on Plan B.” That one will come. Today, something different stirred me. I was going to post about the “writer’s life” as I work from home and juggle family, house, and all the stuff life slaps at you. Instead, I want to write about being out in the wild. As in…home-bound authors who venture out! (p.s. yes, I’m talking to you other writers who hole away in seclusion for too long…I personally go a bit nutty being home with just me, myself, and I most days.)

I’m an extroverted introvert meaning I prefer to stay home for some R&R with family, gardening, writing, TV, or books but I do love to go out and talk with other humans. I miss the camaraderie of an office (but not the drama). Not big parties or loud events (though I can navigate those just fine), but rather if I do go out, my #1 place is to enjoy nature either by boot, paddle, or pedal. If needed, I can also rock it in the extroverted world. Hence I’m an extroverted introvert. I write in cafes, waiting areas, doctor’s offices, coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, my car during parent pick-up at school or at the bus-stop….the list is long. If I can tote my computer with me and I have some down time, I write…with or without noise and distractions. I can filter them out (or pop in earbuds).

I also observe in the wild.

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Newborn baby crying next to me…momma ushering her two or three little ones through the door: both tug at the heartstrings because I have been there (and I’m still there sometimes). They aren’t distractions to me (perhaps because I’ve been writing around the “chaos” in my house for the past ten years). Instead, they are reminders of life. My observations of the world outside my house.

Out in the wild today…I visited a new mechanic’s shop to deal with a recurring problem. I was at my wit’s end with this ongoing issue with my SUV. At 180K miles, it has kid stickers plastered on the windows, stained seats, and ground goldfish on the floor (okay, those were vacuumed up yesterday). It has also seen many years in my family’s life. I arrived at the mechanic’s shop with Plan B: I wore my sneakers in case I needed to go for a walk while waiting, and I brought my laptop in case the shop had a waiting area. Score! My first choice prevailed (writing).

I sat, dug into edits, but soon found myself chatting with the mechanics. One talked all things books. He loves to read and I am a writer: instant chitchat! The other one and I conversed about travel…we’ve ventured to a few similar places such as Yosemite and Yellowstone. Though I came prepared to work (or walk), I ended up working for just a fraction of the time, carrying on lively conversations instead. Car fixed, I now have a new mechanic’s shop to go to. And for a writer who spends most of her time at home or talking to her children, it fed my need to socialize and connect with others.

What finally spurred me to write the post today was what I saw today at lunch. After the mechanic detour and some errands, I needed to eat before heading off to an appointment. I stopped at a fast food joint (nicely remodeled with comfy chairs and service). I located a cozy spot (watching the door) and prepared for a 45 minute editing power session.  

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Beside me sat a middle-aged man with his two senior parents. Maybe it’s because I am a mom to two sons, but I found myself drawn to their interaction. Part of being in the wild is people-watching. The man tenderly, lovingly took care of his mother and father. Answered their repeated questions. Treated them with respect, nurturing, and compassion. I’ll be honest, I got teary-eyed. It tugged at my heartstrings. I can only hope I will raise my sons to be the same gentle-spirited, kind adult souls.

[Side tangent: My 12-year-old son with special needs patiently taught me how to ride a bike this weekend after he just only got his training wheels off at age 11 this fall—wow, he is a sweetheart! And what a humbling, heart-squeezing moment. “Mom, this is how you change gears…” he said as I made him promise to not let go of my handle bar while he walked beside me. The display of the older man with his parents reminded me of my son and fed my wish that he will grow up to be that type of human being.]

Where am I going with this disjointed ramble? Not sure. All that I know is some days, when we are harried by frustrations like overbooked schedules and missing our editing deadlines and dealing with the same old car issue, life shows us the beauty of the wild. Friendly chats, tender adult sons, snapshots of life among the chaos.

My power session flew quickly and I wrote this blog post instead of editing. Then I rushed off to the appointment, dealt with the kid after-school-hustle, yada yada. I hope to snatch a few crumbs of time here and there to keep editing this evening (around the chaos).

Did I enjoy my venture into the wild, away from the isolation of home? Yes, yes I did. And I highly recommend that we all take a break from the workload, even if we need to force it (I know this can be more difficult for some people) and get out into the wild.

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I’d love to hear from you. Are you an introvert, extrovert, or some mishmash between? How do you get out into the wild, explore the world, and feed your soul?


A Slice of Pie

I may be a romance writer by night (and mom, educator, do-it-all-er by day…and soon to be full-time multiple-genre writer by day) but writing is far from romantic. Yet, I do it. Why? Love, of course. And not just those happy-ever-after loves [although I do enjoy those]. Writers have their varying reasons for pursuing this tough career choice, but I will put my money on the fact that most do it because it has been a dream and a love of theirs for years or decades. Many folks already know my story and path to publication, so I won’t go all into that. Today, I’m going to talk about pie! Not pumpkin or pecan or apple (all three very good, in my opinion), but rather what a writer spends her time on. It may come as a surprise that writing is not the biggest piece of that pie.

Writing means:

  • Dreaming

  • Writing words

  • Revising and deleting entire scenes, chapters, or characters

  • Rewriting

  • Editing (not to be confused with revision)

  • Research. And more research – historical battles, flora and fauna, cultural habits, locations, language, tools, weapons…the list is long. Be it a magazine or novel, I always research something.

  • Querying and submitting to agents and editors (and writing the query and synopsis to go to said agents/editors, as well as researching the market)

  • Editing again (proofs, galleys, emails with agents or editors)

  • Networking and Twitter-ing

  • Promotion and Marketing

  • Honing Craft (books, workshops, entering short story contests to test your craft abilities)

  • Attending conferences

  • Engaging with peers/writer groups/critique partners

 

Whew! That is a long list.

So how does that all play out into an average day? Well, here’s yesterday’s play-by-play:

Non-writing work (while I am supposed to be writing): took car to mechanic, ran errands, mowed the lawn, watered gardens, exercised, and did the mommy gig before and after school (which for my kiddos also meant a run to Dunkins for calorie-rich drinks after a tough school week!)

Writing work: wrote website blog post, reached out to a library about a “meet and greet” for my recently released book, read some of a critique partner’s manuscript (into the late evening hours when words began to mitosis-ize), looked up scenes in my current book to submit for a potential audio recording narrator audition, worked on Amazon keywords, came up with an idea for my WIP (while exercising) so I jotted a few lines down but then found myself researching Old Norse words and Gaelic words (noting the websites for future searches), checked email no less than five times to see if any agents got back to me on my query for a manuscript [no – it’s a waiting game for sure], attended a webinar and online publisher chat in the evening, and surfed Twitter (agent posts, networking with other writers)…

And drank far too much coffee.

I dipped my fork into all parts of that pie yesterday.

I wrote a total of 90 words yesterday (and so far today, none, but they will come in a little while--do these words count?). 90 words for a manuscript that will likely be about 90,000 words in length. Yeah, not a great word day, but look at all that other work! Certainly there are days where I spend 3-5 hours writing and I can churn out over 2,000-3,000 words in a day.

It’s a juggling act. A balance. Some weeks I can power through and roll out a tremendous number of words (keeping in mind that it’s raw and will require twice or thrice as much time to revise and edit). Other weeks, my focus is on other aspects of writing. It’s all good. It’s all writing. It’s all bringing me one step closer to my dream [to be a multiple-work published author].

So what do I do? Well, a whole lot. Is it worth it? Yes. Many, many times yes. I am a daydream believer. I take my pie by the forkful...with whipped cream.

I’d love to hear from you if you are on this writing journey. How do you spend your days? What are your favorite parts of the writing process?

My own personal pie chart. An estimate of course. 

My own personal pie chart. An estimate of course.