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Carey Jane Clark – A Day in This Author’s Life

A Day in This Author’s Life

by Carey Jane Clark

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was very young. At that time, my ideas of the writing life were pretty idealistic. I think those exotic ideas about writer’s lives are still perpetuated today when we think of writers we admire: Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Sue Monk Kidd. There’s an air of mystery about their lives–an untouchable quality.

I suppose my life has elements of the exotic: we live in China, after all. But daily life here is far from the romantic ideal one pictures as a writer’s life. Because I homeschool, I have just one morning a week during which I have a large block of time set aside to write. On that day, my kids have some independent work they can do while my husband supervises. Meanwhile I sit at Starbucks sipping tea hole up in our bedroom and bang away on my laptop. (Tea is optional, but definitely appreciated.)

Ideally, I’d love to sit in a coffee shop somewhere and do what I do, but I’m usually stopped by the logistics of getting there and getting back during my morning. And personal space in China isn’t what it is in North America. I have no guarantee of being undisturbed while sitting in a coffee shop and a great probability of inhaling someone’s cigarette smoke. At home, I’m familiar with all the noises, and I have developed the ability to shut out that world and just get down to the writing task at hand.

I usually try to spend the evening before my “writing morning” setting my mind to the scene or character I’ll work on the next day so I don’t have to spend the first hour getting into some kind of writing zone–I’m already there.

For example, today I’m working on developing the character of a police officer who is one of the point of view characters in my work in progress. Not wanting him to be a stereotype, I’ve spent time on fleshing out his motivations–his compelling need. I found it necessary to create a little backstory on him: Why did he want to be a police officer? Did he dread the idea of a nine-to-five desk job? Or did he have altruistic ideas of being a hero or making the world a better place? As his career progressed, did he hold on to those ideals, or has he become cynical? Where is he in his policing career and how does he feel about that?

Last night, I spent some time searching around in online police forums reading about how real police officers decided on their career paths. I researched the kinds of answers the higher-ups look for in interviews to determine if an individual is a good candidate for the force.

This morning, a whole scene dropped into my lap of my police officer saying goodbye to his teenage daughter as he drops her off for school. In it, he reflects back on his relationship with her as well as his motivation to become a cop. Putting words to these ideas will be my work for the rest of the morning.

This afternoon, I’ll take off my writer’s hat and don the homeschool mom’s hat. I’ll lead my kids through piano and violin lessons and run to the market for milk and vegetables. Then I’ll take the cat for his shots, make dinner for our family, supervise the tidying of the homeschool room, and maybe do a laundry load or two.

Ah yes, my exotic writer’s life!

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Genre – Inspirational

Rating – PG (some difficult subject matter)

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