Friday, April 8, 2011

A Glimpse - Dakota Shares A Day.or... Perhaps, Better Stated...a 24-Hour Period.....

Dark TimeFirst, the random line from Dark Time:

She let her rented Taurus take her to the airport, driving on automatic as she mulled over the unusual experience of having someone within arm’s length drop dead, and she hadn’t done it.











I have strange habits as a writer. I know this because when the subject of "What's your day like?" comes up when I'm in a group of writers, I keep my mouth shut and listen to others answer. I've learned this because when I did speak up, there was usually silence followed by questions directed at the other authors. 

I used to be a morning person, but writing changed all that. Now I consider myself lucky if I can answer a routine email by 1pm. So here's how it goes, from noon to noon. 

At noon, I'm probably asleep. When the need to take care of natural bodily functions wake me (I implied that this wasn't pretty, and now I've confirmed it), I roll out of bed, my eyes blinking at the insult of daylight. I read the comics section of my local newspaper, squinting at the ever-smaller print and pictures. Two cups of coffee land in my stomach during this time. Caffeine molecules try to outdo each other in terms of stimulating my head to stay erect. Sounds vaguely naughty, but for the caffeine it is a serious challenge. 

Finally making it down the hall to my office, I have to push a cat off my chair to sit down. The cat, indignant at having to move, drops a new supply of shed cat hair on my keyboard. At least it's better than dropping something else. Clearing away the fur, I answer email concerning the business of writing. I notice that some people have emailed me at or before 8am, the start of the usual business day, and I'm hours late in responding. This is good in one respect--sometimes the crisis has passed by then. I'm smiling while answering email but since no one sees that and I am never sure if the recipients are going to take things the right way, I sprinkle in smiley faces. :) This results in strange emails such as:

Dear AA-Able Printers:

Your bookmark shipment to me is two weeks overdue. I don't want excuses and I especially don't want my customer services rep to communicate with me since he lies between what is left of his teeth. :) I just want a delivery date you can actually stick to. Please respond immediately. :)

Warmly, 
Dakota 

Then on to the pleasant job of responding to readers and authors. 

Time for breakfast. Then a couple hours of writing, or if necessary, more business stuff. If the weather is good I go out people-watching. I order shoes from an online site and ponder deeply whether to get white or black sneakers. There seems to be some hidden meaning there (perhaps concerning lunar cycles) that I can's quite grasp, so I blindly pick one and type in the magical 16 digits that bring products to my home. 

Time for lunch. At 6pm, my creativity has fled, so I take a nap. Sometimes half an hour, sometimes a serious sleep of 2-3 hours. 

Surf the web with the excuse that I'm doing research for my book. Actually do some research. Interact with my two 18-year-old sons, who mostly grunt and mumble things under their breath--I love them dearly :)--, and my husband, who wants to discuss the minute details of (fill in the blank with a consumer product) we probably can't afford. I spend time reading, sometimes for pleasure, sometimes in an analytical mode--how does this author achieve good pacing, that kind of thing. 

It's 10pm, or later. Time to get serious about writing. I reread what I wrote the night before and patch it up. Sometimes I back up further than one day's session for this editing. I edit as I go along, so that when I'm finished, the book is ready to be sent off to my editor. I don't make a quick first draft all the way to the end, as many authors do, and then revise the entire draft. This is one of the biggest differences I have when comparing my writing habits to those of other authors.

About 1am, I'll take a break and eat dinner. Maybe read a magazine. Back to writing, which sometimes means staring at the screen, writing one sentence, staring some more--or racing on with no idea of the passage of time. I'm in the zone. I rarely hit the zone outside the hours of 2am-5am. I get more writing done during these three hours than the other 21 hours of the day.

At 6am, I notice it's light outside and birds are chirping. Sleep until noonish. Repeat.

This, for me, is the glamorous writer's life. Interspersed are times of great satisfaction and excitement, times that send my heart soaring and remind me that I'm driven to write and can't imagine myself doing anything else. From small moments such as finding the perfect word to large ones like seeing my book in bookstores--this is the life for me.

Dakota Banks