Sunday, September 24, 2006


I may be a workaholic. Genetics, in fact, insist that I be. I never saw my parents in non-work mode until they turned eighty. At which time they began taking a few minutes to sleep at night. So when Deb D. spoke of receiving gifts you don’t realize you need, I knew exactly what she was talking about; right now I’m in super drive work mode. My book, Bewitching The Highlander, (which may or may not be the title that actually shows up on the cover) is due in New York in one week. One week! That’s the approximate time it takes me to peal an apple. Note: Workaholoics don’t necessarily work fast.

But here’s the kicker--my daughter’s big year-end horse show took place the middle of September--two weeks before my deadline. I truly felt I couldn’t be there, even though my universe revolves around her. My characters were being snotty, my plot was a tangled mess, and my villain refused to die. But in the end I remembered one sterling truth--daughters don’t stay young forever. So we packed up Sagacious Sage, the cutest horse in the solar system, and trotted off to the fairgrounds. For fours days we slept in the trailer, ate junk food, and spent a lot of time trying to keep our white horse white. In other words, I went into….unthink mode.

Turns out, it was the best thing that could have happened to my book. Maybe it was the Twinkies, maybe it was the icy water Tara kept hosing me down with while pretending to wash Sage, or maybe my little mind just needed a break. Because, glory be, when I returned home, exhausted and smelling like horse dung, my characters straightened right up. My plot magically untangled itself, and my villain finally croaked.

I admit that coming from a long line of overachieving ueber workers, I usually agree with that ‘just do it’ and ‘get ‘er done’ mentality. But sometimes it’s best to just unthink for a while. My methods, oddly enough, usually involve horse manure and a half a ton of complex carbohydrates. But I imagine their are other, possibly more civilized, methods.

What are yours?


Helen Brenna said...

When I need a break from the writing thing, there's nothing better for me clearing my head than manual labor.

Working out, brushing the dogs, completing an actual project, like cleaning out a closet. Sometimes, it involves loud music and others complete silence.

Anyone know - is this a right brain/left brain kind of thing??

Betina Krahn said...

The kind of thing that puts you in the zone is probably related to whether you tend to be a right or left brainer. But in terms of the Zone itself, that's not a right-left thing. I think it has more to do with the centralized medulla and hypothalmus, which control emotional responses and other such lizard-brain things.

For me physical exertion like walking or swimming is a real help. Repetive manual labor like washing dishes or weeding flower beds is also good for working out thought-plot-character kinks. Driving distances on a freeway always helps.

But since I've moved to Florida, water has become a real de-tangler for me. Whenever I need to noodle about something, I just put on the swimsuit and climb into a lovely warm or cool pool, whichever the season calls for. The water soothes the tension and lets my conscious mind calm enough to let the stuff the subconscious has been working on come out.

Golly, Lois. Manure and carbs. There's a combination you don't find everyday! LOL!

Great topic on a Monday morning!

Debra Dixon said...

Lois-- I'm an "unthinker" too.

I'm not sure how I arrived at that process but "unthinking" is an established cultural activity in the South.

"I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

However, I've never worn the drapes.

Betina Krahn said...

LOL, Deb.

Reminds me of the Carol Burnett take off on Gone With The Wind. . . the one where she, as Scarlet, wears the curtains, rod and all?

I have days like that. . . where I could be wearing a curtain rod and never realize it. but mostly when I'm on deadline.

Lois m'dear, we do give a d***. Hurry and finish that book and come and play with us here!

Helen Brenna said...


lois greiman said...

You girls go ahead and wear your curtain rods. As for me, I need me a nice straight jacket, cuz while it's true that my characters have straightened up nicely, I'm a wee bit short of time. And if I'm late that puts me behind on my next book, which puts me behind on my next...well, you know how it is. It's nice having contracts, but maybe next time I'll try for sanity too.

Debra Dixon said...


I loved that Carol Burnett skit. Cracked me up.

My mother once made me a pair of pants which I adored. Until I went into a friend's house and there was my fabric on her couch!!

Apparently Mother had gotten a good deal at the remnant table.

I got a good deal of ribbing.

Betina Krahn said...

Ha! Deb, there seem to be no end to the ways parents can inflict trauma on offspring.
My boys claim being forever set back in life because they were forced to wear Sears Toughskins to elementary school. Poor babies. No mention of the fact that they wore the n'th degree of cool Levi's while in middle school and high school. Who knew I'd mark them forever with my hideous choice of jeans with reinforced knees!

But the sofa pants. . . that's one for a book!

Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- How dare you buy sensible jeans for young boys! Evil, evil mother!

My son would never wear shorts after the age of 6. Go figure.

Then at 16 or 17 he whacked off some of his father's old khaki's and looked like homeless-boy for a while. (Traumatizing me.) I followed him around saying, "We can afford clothing. Really. He has coat too." (The boy still doesn't wear a coat even in the dead of winter. It has to hit 30 before he'll consider it.)