For me, most days begin at 5:30 am when I steal a few minutes of quiet in semi-darkness feed the cat and dog, prepare my lunch, and plan for dinner. As soon as the kids are awake, and my husband comes back from walking the dog, I take off the “mom” hat and grab my brief case. By 6:30 am, I’m jockeying through New York City traffic, crossing bridges and driving down streets clogged with trucks and school buses–and an awful lot of people in a hurry to get somewhere.
The first thing I do is eat breakfast (oatmeal and raisins made with almond or cashew milk) and log into my computer, my email and the electronic medical record. It’s hard to decide which to address first: the list of what I must do that day, or the red exclamation points next to laboratory test results or the dreaded “incomplete encounter” memos. From that moment on, until I get my next breath of fresh air late in the evening, I might not even know what the weather is like while immersed in a world where uncertainty is the only certainty.
I’m used to this routine and juggling my family, home, and work responsibilities. But if just one thing goes wrong: a traffic jam, a sick kid, a major emergency or sick patient at the end of the day, the gears jam and explode and I’m stuck standing in the middle of the ruins trying to decide what to do first.
My life is one giant incomplete encounter. There is never enough time to restore order in the house, to spend with my family, or to do my writing or marketing. The house is never really clean; the stages of disarray range from pretty under to control to hopeless. The inbox is always full and the Buffer for my Twitter feed always seems empty. I’d love to read more– to relax and to bring all the fragments of my life, and my split personalities back together but more frequently I’m up far later than I should be writing the next page rather than reading. There are just too many demands on my time, my brain and my soul.
Whether the workday stretches to twelve hours, or ends at eight, by the time I go through the mail, attend to hungry and attention starved children and pets, and get dinner, it’s very hard to put change hats again and sit down to create or perfect a story.
Late at night, when the exhaustion takes hold, I can more easily slip into my characters’ heads, incorporating the snippets of real life I encounter along the way. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non fiction-I have to slam the door on on my ‘real’ personas and open up a window into an alternate world or experience. I might be impersonating a 1870s sea captain, his wife, his rival, or maybe even a ghost, fairy, werewolf or vampire dodging traffic on a New York City street.
Somehow it all gets done, though it might take an inmail with two red exclamation points warning me to sign those charts or else (don’t know what they’d do, but I’m not taking any chances). Or a note reminding me a post is due or that an event I signed up for six months ago is happening next weekend (and I don’t have anything ready). Or an email from my editor, manuscript attached, with edits to be addressed (and if I don’t get them done the release is going to be delayed.
This last week I literally pulled myself together, finally sent my data set to the biostatistician, signed off on all the labs, completed all my outstanding charts, and sent Breakwater Beach back for a second round in preparation for an April release. But by the time this is posted, there will be a whole new list of incomplete encounters, the gears will jam and explode and I will be creating something new amongst the ruins.
Carole started writing the Unfinished Business Series in 2006. The idea came to her one Fourth of July weekend when opening up a summer cottage in upstate New York, pulling off dustcovers and vacuuming up dead flies. The story of a woman that finds a trunk of old clothes in an attic turned into the novel series set in her favorite place on Cape Cod-Brewster.
The Widow’s Walk focuses on the aftermath of the star crossed romance of sea captain Edward Barrett and his wife Lady Elisabeth Baxter Barrett–and the lingering effects of their restless spirits on Mike and Liz Keeny. The prequel, Breakwater Beach, which contains the majority of the historical context, is due out in April 2016.