Sol 1—this is how the movie, The Martian, tallies Matt Damon’s 560 sols, alone, on Mars—a lifeless planet, covered in red dust, where nothing grows and nothing lives. Of course, it’s also the title of the bestselling novel The Martian by Andy Weir.
Were you were wondering how I might segue to a blog post about novel writing?
This is my first bookless morning in four years. Inside my own house, here on planet earth, I feel a bit lost. Well, lost in my space. And no worries, I’ve got the dust covered too. Yesterday, I turned in my sixth traditionally published novel, the final installment of the Ghost Gifts Trilogy.
If I were to meet the deadlines, I had to put blogging aside many sols ago. Multitasking is not my strong suit. During a good writing jag, this means I might unload the dishwasher before everyone is eating dinner with iced-tea spoons. Time management is also the reason I didn’t attempt novel writing before I turned forty. I’m amazed by authors who post cute tubby time pics of their toddlers, right before the Instagram shot of their latest, chart-climbing release. For me, public education needed to takeover childcare first.
That was a while ago, like back on Sol 112. I now have three adult children in residence—nurse, lawyer, and an actor. Yeah, that third one gets away from you. Their career choices enhanced my ability not to look up, since medical services, legal advice, and entertainment was readily available. Seriously, I have been a happy prisoner in my writing room. Nothing gets in. In fact, I learned only yesterday that my publisher acquired Whole Foods and that we have a new president. I understand everyone is fired up about the latter!
Truthfully, my adult children are large part of the reason I’ve stayed focused: ass in chair, eyes on these books. But today that changes. Today I only have to show up to my afternoon gig, right here at the host of this blog—AuthorBytes. I’ll save my ABytes bits for a different sol.
Aside from my left hip and upper back, both thrilled to shake off the chains, the rest of me is ambivalent about turning in the last book. This morning the house is creaky quiet. It feels lonely here. The company I keep, they’ve vanished with the finality of “The End.”
It’d become habit, reveling in the day’s limited silence. The hours before the nurse arrives home, shuffling her germ-laden clogs across the carpet to deliver news of her day. It’s a reality that makes you grateful for autonomous control over a fictitious world. The almost-lawyer now speaks a language no one can understand. This occasionally leaves her in a snit when we fail to appreciate the comparative negligence anecdote regaled in her Health, Law and Policy class. Fortunately, I’m free to devote more time to laughing on cue. The actor will put on a show now and again—the stressful rigors of college life. (Insert eye-roll here) Actually, feel sorry for him. The poor boy ended up with my brain.
I’ve heard other authors talk about the wondrous aftermath of a post deadline world. I’m sure I’ll acclimate. There are things I look forward to: making a huge dent in an embarrassingly deep TBR pile and not canceling dentist appointments. (Book deadlines are the world’s best excuse for delaying one-on-one time with your hygienist.) I’d sign up for a yoga class, but a deep-rooted stigma, dating back to high school gym class, thwarts this idea. I get downright nauseous near any sort of matted rubber. Hoarder drawers. Every drawer in this house is representative of someone who’s lived by the rule, “Just shove it in there for now. I’ll get to it later.”
Hello, later. So I’m off to survive on a planet where nothing will grow. It’s not quite the dire circumstance Matt Damon’s character faces. I mean, there’s no water reclaimer to worry about, no deathly atmosphere to face. At least not until a New England February arrives. But like The Martian, it’s overall space that concerns me. The span between my ears, it’s used to the buzz of people, even if they only existed on one author’s planet. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to do. Everything from book promotion (FORETOLD out October 24th if I didn’t mention it) to drawers jammed with takeout menus from restaurants that went belly-up in 2012, dried-out Gorilla Glue, and cheery high school graduation napkins. No one has graduated high school here since 2015. Larger, more meaningful uses of time are sure to materialize. As always, I’m simply impatient with patience. That said, all will be well. With new worlds come brand new possibilities.