Monday, July 10, 2006

Chaos Theory

There's a lot to be said for chaos theory, especially if it's the force by which you live your life. I have to admit to a certain dislike for order and precision. I tend to thrive in chaos and come alive creatively when the Deadline Clock is ticking loudly in my ear.

In many ways Americans are doomed to be their high school selves well into their golden years and clearly I'm no exception. I was an adrenaline junkie who lived for marathon study sessions the day before the big exam, who studied with the television or radio blaring right by her ear, who trusted that somehow, some way the right answer would make itself known when I needed it. The truly amazing thing is that usually it did. A small miracle, yes, but a miracle nonetheless. (And enough of one to land me in the National Honor Society with a few scholarships.)

But I'm discovering that maybe chaos theory is better left to the young and strong of heart. Those of us whose creative spirits have been kicked around for more years than we might care to admit might be wise to take another look -- a long look -- at schedules, calendars, and routine.

Ugh. There's the word I've been trying to avoid. Routine. For me it's always meant the last stop on the road to utter creative boredom and predictability (even though in my non-writing life I adore my everyday routines and rely on them for much joy and delight.) I've started to rethink my position on creative routine and have decided there's something to be said for it after all. Our lives are filled with so many distractions -- 24 hour news channels screaming misery at us; IPODs; blogs (sorry); families; work; school; you name it -- that it's increasingly hard to turn away from the demands of the real world and allow ourselves to sink into the unreal world of the fictional mind.

Okay, okay. So maybe that's a roundabout way of saying that I'm finding it harder to turn my back on the real world these days and let the world of my characters take over. I discovered something this winter when I was working on JUST LIKE HEAVEN (March 2007) that precipitated this change of creative heart and mind. Anyone who knows me knows I am an avowed night owl who wouldn't know daylight if it whacked me in the head with a two-by-four. I'm not quite sure how it happened but one morning I found myself awake and amazingly alert at the ungodly hour of five-fifteen. Instead of doing the expected (going back to sleep) I did the unthinkable and got up and got down to work.

It was the best thing I ever did. The words flowed in a way they hadn't in years. Morning after morning the words were there waiting for me when I came downstairs to my laptop and the only thing that had changed was my schedule.

I'm at the early stages of a novella for Harlequin right now (a terrific anthology of stories surrounding a wedding in Paris featuring Marie Ferrarella, Cindi Myers, and me) and trying to force myself to be a morning person for the duration. We'll see how it goes.

This is the fun part of the process. I'm surrounded by Paris travel guides. I'm playing French music in the background. I'm immersed in every outrageously romantic fantasy I've ever entertained about that beautiful city and getting paid for the pleasure. Is that great or what?



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