Wednesday, December 23, 2015

1 Write First by Estelle Laure

We're excited to welcome Estelle Laure to the blog today, as our last writer giving us advice on writing for 2015! Estelle's debut, THIS RAGING LIGHT, released this week (and we're giving away a copy in our Monday roundup post). Today, she's talking about putting writing first. 

Write First by Estelle Laure

This is my fantasy: I wake up easily, filled with energy and a general sense of gratitude and wellbeing. I meditate because that solves all my problems and stimulates the creative part of my brain. I then write in my journal, those morning pages everyone talks about, three neat composition pages of all my inner turmoil. I use writing prompts about childhood, red wagons, swings, the smell of cookies.

I follow that with a nutritious breakfast. I drink green tea because coffee is just so harsh.... I then sweat it out in a hot yoga class, squeeze the last of the toxins from my perfect skin.

I arrive home again rested, alive, well cared-for and after drinking an 8oz class of lemon water, taking the dog for a brisk walk and then getting the kids up and ready for school without a hitch, I sit down in my perfectly clean house, having tackled all distractions, having cleansed both body and mind, and I turn to the word, create brilliantly and flawlessly for the six hours my children aren’t home, and then greet them with energy and perfect love at the end of the day.

It has taken me a long time to figure out just how much of a fantasy this is.
First of all, if I did all those things before the kids got up I wouldn’t sleep at all. Second, I am exhausted almost all the time and the day rarely submits to my ideas of timing and routine. Kids get sick (there was a profuse amount of vomit in my house over the weekend, including my own), mornings are almost never without a hitch. There are day jobs and snow days and bills to be paid, family emergencies and unplanned back pains.

After much analysis, I have surmised that there’s no place to trim the fat. Everything in my life has meaning, and for that I can be nothing but grateful. I’ve spent years honing it down to the juicy and the necessary. I need to exercise because I spend however many hours a day on my butt in front of a computer and I become slovenly and depressed if I don’t. Plus, I like it. I need to take care of my children because I love them and motherhood is my most important job, so when they’re home my attention is on them. I need to clean, to cook, because that’s part of my job, too. Cars must be washed, teeth brushed, tears wiped. There are classroom performances, emergencies at work, friend crises, and there’s love, too. One must make time for love. It never ends.

Claiming time for writing gets more difficult as the day goes on, as the demands build, as time speeds up and whirs by, and I don’t know if everyone is like this, but there’s nothing worse for me than the ache I get when I can’t get to the page, when the hours are ticking and the notion of time alone with story is slipping away. It’s relentless guilt/stress/desire/self-loathing. I don’t need it or want it. I want the writing gods to understand that I am available to them. And so, a sacrifice is called for. Because I am unwilling to sacrifice my children, my body, my relationship, my day job, my community, there is only this: five am.

I consider writing one small step above basic bodily functions in terms of necessity, and also to be the most luxurious interaction with my own inner bits, a total privilege. For that reason, because it fulfills so many needs at once, writing needs to come first, before anything else, before the day has time to misbehave.

My morning time is precious. I don’t meditate or eat breakfast or stretch when the alarm goes off. I go directly to the computer, turn it on, and start writing. If I’m going to be up at five instead of cocooning in my bed, if I’m going to beat time, there’s no messing around.

There are certain things I can no longer do, of course. I can’t stay up late. I can’t drink. Being a rebellious slacker at heart, I have to take care of myself in a way that is still a daily struggle. But if writing is as necessary to me as I claim, if it is the ultimate source of my communion with myself, the career I have dreamed of, one important prong of who I am, there is no excuse not to do it.

So it has to be five am because there’s no guarantee of time anywhere else in the day, because if I find myself with three hours to write in the afternoon, or a night alone at home, it’s a blessing, something to get excited over, not a regular thing, not something I can schedule in. Five am because no one else is crazy enough to be awake then. The kids are asleep, no one is tweeting or facebooking, there aren’t twenty emails a minute, the phone isn’t ringing.

Five am is you, a cup of something warm and delicious (coffee!), and the bleariness of your brain as an ally. You don’t have the wherewithal to stress out. You can dive directly into your story, your characters as close to you as your dreams. With crusty eyes and pajamas on, you go forth, you conquer. You are a warrior and you have proven your mettle. You can go into your day the badass writer you are, ready for whatever Murphy and his stupid law have in store for you.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Can the best thing happen at the worst time? Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page.

Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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