Friday, August 27, 2010

Endorphins and Writing

My husband's work keeps him on the road, away from home way too much of the time - which means there are too many nights when it's just me and my teddy bear trying to fall asleep. Some nights I toss and turn, worrying about things that are beyond my power to control. I've found I sleep best when I lie in bed and think about the book that's currently in progress.

I've heard that writers shouldn't do that, because either it keeps you awake all night or you forget any insights you had by the time you wake up in the morning. I don't find that's a problem for me. I keep my current WIP notebook within easy reach, and my teddy bear doesn't mind my turning on the light when inspiration strikes. As soon as a scene or an insight from my MC comes into focus, I'm sitting up in bed and writing it down, so it's safely preserved for my more wakeful writer persona of the next morning.

And here's my discovery: writing seems to be as good as making love when it comes to releasing hormones! Making good love releases endorphins that activate the body's opiate receptors - in other words, endorphins make you slide happily into sleep. So does tapping into your book's soul. As soon as I've written down my new insight and switched off the light, I slip happily into sleep and have a good night. Okay, being with my husband is even better for a loving night's sleep, but it doesn't increase my word count or my character insights.

Whichever option you have tonight, sweet dreams.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On Fire

No, I'm not talking about Katniss, the Girl on Fire (though I do already have a cool Mockingjay t-shirt that I can't wait to wear while I'm reading the book, which I've pre-ordered). I'm talking about something a member of my writers' group said after I reported to them on everything I've been up to since landing my new agent, Jill Corcoran. My friend told me I was on fire with writing, now that I didn't have to think about the business aspect of the work.

I think she's right. Ever since I started writing, lo these many years ago, I've worked at submitting all my manuscripts on my own and dealing with the business end of the craft by negotiating my own contracts. But this business aspect has sapped more and more of my creative energy as publishers have made the business of being a writer increasingly difficult. Now that I've found an agent who believes in me and has shouldered that burden with gusto, I feel free to focus on the writing aspect. That doesn't mean I'm ignoring the concept of marketing entirely and writing in a vacuum, because if you're not cognizant of market demand you're not doing your creativity any favors! But I can concentrate on what I want to write, with the idea of how it fits into market requirements as a background to the work, not as the next phase of responsibility I have to take on myself.

So I've worked on planning out three chapter books in a series and started a new YA novel, Fire at Will, and I feel as if I'm fizzing with creative energy and excitement. In short, I feel as enthusiastic as I used to feel when I started writing. I know I'll still have revision work with editors as Permanent Record and other books are sold, and I'm looking forward to it, as I used to look forward to every phase of this craft, but being able to focus on only the creative side of the business is incredibly liberating. My friend was right - I'm on fire with the thrill of writing all over again, thanks to partnering with my agent!