There’s a train of thought I’ve heard articulated that writer’s block is actually an indication of laziness on the part of an author. That if one continues to show up at the blank page, one will eventually be rewarded. Do you ascribe to that theory?
Do you have any advice for new writers about how they might avoid burnout?
I’d love to know about your writing process.
Well let me answer the easy part of that question. I write at a desk in my study. I designed this desk to put things in easy reach, and it works well. Sort of a U shape with open wings. I have my research books in a carousel, but when things are going well, they just pile up on my desk.
The bane of my existence is my chair. It’s very hard to get a comfortable yet ergonomic chair, and they cost a fortune when you do.
I do have one piece of advice for committed writers. Writing at a computer is not a healthy physical activity. Get up and move. Do not fool around with tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, or you will be very sorry. Get an ergonomic keyboard and a chair that supports your elbows properly before you spend any money on publicity or bookmarks or writing courses. Work most of the time at a desk of the right height.
I should tell a story on myself about “get up and move.” I know my writing has been going well when I look up and feel as if I’ve been at the bottom of a lake holding my breath for hours. (I think maybe I do hold my breath.) So, I decided to get some software on my computer to set an alarm every hour, to remind me to take a break.
At first I set it to sound a ding, nice and polite. After a couple of dings, I ignored that, of course. So then I set it to a honk. That lasted maybe a day, before I started to ignore it. Then I set it to Big Ben tolling. I think that got my attention for a week or so. Then I would just sit right through it, writing. I tried a man yelling, “Elvis has entered the building!” Ten days, maybe, before I didn’t even hear him.
Finally, in desperation, I set it to an ambulance siren, that really loud European kind that goes WOO-woo-WOO-woo-WOO-woo!
One day a friend called, and as I picked up the phone she gasped and said, “Are you all right? What’s going on??”
The ambulance siren was going off, really loud, right by my ear, and I didn’t even notice it.
That’s what it’s like when my writing is going well. Nothing else exists. It was a pretty funny phone call though.
Now you’re back with a new lease on your writing life and a very different kind of book. Can you tell us about Lessons in French?
Lessons in French is a feel-good book. It’s written for fun, for me and for readers. Oddly enough, though I’m known for dark intense books, personally I love to read those light and effervescent ones where the girly fantasy rules: “Gidget Goes to Rome” in historical romance form.
Don’t you love those stories where the shy, plain girl gets the hot dashing guy in the end? Lady Callie ought to be quite a catch–she’s the wealthy daughter of an earl–but she’s been left standing at the altar by three different men. She’s washed her hands of gentlemen, and her greatest desire is to win the silver cup at the agricultural fair with her prize bull, Hubert.
That’s until Trev d’Augustin waltzes back into her quiet life. The son of French émigrés, he was run out of town by Callie’s father years ago for stealing a bit more than a kiss from her. Callie and Trev share quite a past, in fact, full of secret adventures and harebrained antics that no one else knows about, not even Trev’s very shrewd mother. On his return, Callie is drawn willy-nilly into scandal and deception–the sort of deception that involves trying to hide a huge bull under the bedsheets. She goes from having no suitors to having more than she wanted. And in the midst of these escapades, she finds herself falling in love again with the worst possible man for her.