Dear She Writers,

I can't believe that in about 3 weeks Oleander Girl will hit the bookstores!

Sometimes I'm elated when I think this; at other times I'm overwhelmed.

My brain is a constant flurry of trying to remember the million things that must be done before starting book tour--guest blog posts written, email interview questions answered, facebook entries made, friends in different cities informed of my events, flights and hotels booked, publicity questions handled, university meetings attended, novels blurbed, plants watered, bills paid, favorite meals frozen in Tupperware for my husband. (Yes, it's my fault--I've spoiled him.)

To counteract this making-myself-crazy, this week I've decided that I must find some quiet time for myself and purposefully do a few things that are healthy and healing for my harried mind.

The first is meditation. I have a regular meditation practice, but sometimes when things get too busy, it slips away from me. So from now through the end of the book tour, I'm determined to make a deliberate attempt to meditate each day, even if it's only for 10 or 15 minutes. Even if it's for five. I can already feel, after a couple of sessions, that it's centering me, helping me to keep things in perspective. 

The second is exercise. I find that if I exercise regularly, I have more energy, think more clearly, and am calmer when faced with the unexpected. As part of my routine, I do weights, but my favorite activity is being on the elliptical machine.I find myself zoning out while I'm on the machine. It's very relaxing, and sometimes it brings me new writing ideas.

I've also decided to reward myself by reading some light, laugh-out-loud, non-intellectually challenging stuff, books that have been lying around the house. Books that when you read them, it's like sinking into eiderdown or biting into truffles. Right now I'm re-reading a book from the Harry Potter series, which I took from my son's bookshelf. I love children's books, the relatively unambiguous world they pull us into, the clarity of their focus.

Finally, I've decided to spend a couple of hours a day working on my next novel project. Even if I don't get very far ahead, being engaged in a creative activity calms me and makes me feel happy. It keeps me firm in my commitment to writing. It makes me keep things in perspective. Much as I love Oleander Girl, my new baby,it is only one among my other books, several of which are yet to come.

My current project, with the working title Under the Sorrow Tree, is a re-telling of the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana, from a major woman character's (Sita's) point of view. I love messing with the perspective, seeing all those heroic battles and splendid killer weapons through a woman's eye. I've only managed to write three pages so far, but that's three more than nothing! In fact, every word that I put down makes me realize the real reason I'm doing the book tour: because my writing matters to me, and because I want to share it with others.

Friends, if you have strategies you use to stay calm during spikes in your writing life, I'd love to hear (and perhaps borrow!) them.

Warmly,

Chitra

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Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on March 1, 2013 at 11:32am

Marivi, thanks for the good wishes & the link. I'll check it out as soon as I have a little time.

Comment by Marivi Soliven on March 1, 2013 at 11:15am

Thanks for venting about  pre-publication jitters, Chitra!  Your post inspired me to finally complete my own blog on the the same topic, which I'd been putting off for weeks.  If you find some time between the many other things you need to attend to before your book is released, please visit:

http://marivisoliven.blogspot.com/2013/03/heebie-jeebies.html

Congratulations in advance for Oleander Girl!

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on March 1, 2013 at 10:56am

Congratulations on Fast Times in Palestine, Pamela! And on the marriage. Everything's happening at once for you. But like you wrote, these are all good things! And they'll soon be done. (That's what I keep saying, myself. I'll do my best, and then it'll be done. And the results are in the hands of the Universe.)

Comment by Pamela Olson on March 1, 2013 at 10:43am

My book will be published in a couple of weeks (eek!), and I'll start a book tour of five weeks on the road, then three weeks making trips from NY to various places on the east coast. So much to do in the next two weeks, I've started having anxiety dreams, and I'm not exercising (which always makes things worse), and two weeks after the book tour ends I'm getting married... Really trying to breathe, but feeling a little suffocated sometimes. Trying to keep things in perspective -- book tours and weddings are Good Things, after all. But yeah, it's a lot. Glad to hear about other people's stories who are in similar boats!

Looking forward to a Big Exhale this summer. And finally having time to actually WRITE instead of all this peripheral (but alas, so important) publicity and marketing stuff.

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 28, 2013 at 4:46pm

Thanks, Kathleen. It helps me to know others are going through similar situations and handling them with grace. Good luck with the agent.

Comment by Kathleen Kern on February 28, 2013 at 4:30pm

Sounds like you have a handle on it.  I'm out in California helping a friend write a memoir, which is keeping me from going insane while an agent reads my novel manuscript.  If I were in your shoes, I think I would just be insane.  Looking forward to listening to your books.  And I will try to keep your suggestions in mind if I'm ever in your position.

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 28, 2013 at 2:41pm

Sharon, So glad you are enjoying Sister of My Heart. Thanks for letting me know. And you go and enjoy that vacation. A lot of times when I don't think about writing, something happens in the subconscious, and wonderful ideas come, and I get re-energized.

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 28, 2013 at 2:40pm

Marci, Good luck with The Lake House--lovely title. It's wonderful when one finds an activity to lose the conscious mind in--that's meditation in movement. So glad for you that you have this.

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 28, 2013 at 2:38pm

Hi Nora,

Yes!!! great ideas.

Comment by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on February 28, 2013 at 2:38pm

Hi Marivi,

congratulations on The Mango Bride, and good luck with the tour. I have to confess, a lot of times I watch movies on Netflix while I'm on the elliptical. It's my "brain break." Yoga sounds like a great idea, too.

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