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.