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Thursday, May 12, 2016

KEEP CALM and CARRY ON WRITING with KAREN DUDLEY

A FEW DAYS AGO, after finishing yet another day of what seemed like my never-ending edit of The Tattooed Queen, I was wishing for some time off. There are times when I wonder if I'll ever write another word again. I know I will, but my efforts may not be to the same intense degree - writing a trilogy is the literary equivalent of running a marathon. Which got me to wondering - am I truly a writer if I need time not to be one? I decided to ask a few of my writer friends what they do after they finish a book. Do they give themselves a breather or do they start right in on the next one? This is what my friend, Karen Dudley, of Ravenstone Books, had to say:

"Whenever I finish writing a novel, I ALWAYS take time off to recover and refresh. For one thing, I need the mental break from writing, the time to let go of the world I created and re-acclimate to the real world. I also find I need to get away from the whole desk thing for a while, if only to give my body a break from sitting in one position for too long. Generally, I clean the house, or paint a room, or play in the garden. I go for lots of walks in nature, I cuddle my cats, I reconnect with friends, have a massage or two, and I take baths with essential oils and epsom salts. These last two have become more important as I’ve gotten wiser and more elegant because writing can be damn hard on the body—especially when you’ve been pushing yourself to get the book finished! Usually by the time a manuscript is done, my back and shoulders HATE me, so I need to show them some love.

After I do all this, I clean my den. I organize the notebooks and scraps of paper, I put away the research books, and I completely clean off my desk, wipe it with lemon oil, and wash the dust off my plants. I even change out the cat bed which lives on my desk. Then I smudge the room.

By the time I have finished doing all these things, I am usually ready to start on the next project—as long as life hasn’t gone and gotten all complicated for some reason or another. I think the relaxation stuff I do is pretty standard for most writers, and, for me, the cleaning of my den is a metaphorical cleansing of my mind, a way of getting rid of the stale detritus to make way for fresh creativity.

Having just finished a new manuscript a little over a week ago, I am in the middle of cleaning my den right now. And as I put books away, and dust under my computer, and pick up my daughter’s socks (which, for some strange reason, are lying on the floor in the corner) there, pulsing just beneath the surface of my consciousness, I can sense the next book waiting for me to be ready for it..."

Thanks, Karen. And I can't recommend her books enough. I especially loved her Food for the Gods and Kraken Bake - hilarious historical fantasies set in ancient Rome. Check them out! You'll be glad you did! Her bio is as follows:

Karen Dudley has written historical fantasy, crime fiction, and wildlife biology books for kids. She has just finished writing the first book in The Soul Carpets of Maret trilogy. Book One: The Mountains of the Shining Moon is a second world fantasy with a Silk Road flavour. 

2 comments:

  1. Honestly, I don't take much of a 'breather' between books, but I do try to celebrate milestones like finishing a manuscript by going out to dinner. For me, switching from one part of the writing process to another (like say from editing to brainstorming) is enough to refresh me. Plus, I just have so many books I still want to write!

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  2. Thanks, Nicole. And for those of you who don't know, Nicole has been publishing her fiction since her teens. At last count, I saw over a dozen of her books on Amazon. Nicole, you are one prolific writer!

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