At Home With...
Likening her life to that of Joan Wilder from the movie Romancing The Stone, author Anna J. Stewart pulls back the curtains and tells us what things are like at her house!
All Hail Joan Wilder!
Any Romancing the Stone fans in the audience? Silly question, right? Of course there are. And not just readers of romance, but authors, too. You know how I know this? Because I'm one of them.
It's always (slightly) amused me how romance authors have been portrayed on TV and in movies. Fictional portrayals usually involve wistful qualities, women flitting around the house—a castle-like house of course—wearing frilly pink dresses with ruffles, perfect makeup, and enough hair spray to finish off the O-zone once and for all. Oh, and the words magically appear as if a gift from the muses. But not Joan Wilder. Oh, no. Joan? Oh, they got it down with that story, right down to feeding the cat a celebratory can of tuna when she finishes her book.
Okay, so maybe I don't go that far. My cat's vet would not like that idea at all, although I have no doubt Snickers would eat it up (ha!). As a full-time writer of romance novels, I definitely relate to Joan because she's real (yeah, I know, as real as a movie character can get). And while I don't go on rescue missions to Columbia and hook up with a handsome swashbuckling tour guide (sigh), I do spend my days in a similar fashion to Ms. Wilder.
Don't believe me? Okay, let's examine the evidence.
For me, an ideal writing day means no outside appointments. Nothing that will take me out of the house. No doctor appointments, no grocery shopping, no procrastination trips to Target that will put a dent in my debit card. Ahhh, these days are amazing! Add in a little rain, some cloud cover and, well, I'm one very happy writer.
The day starts at 5:20 a.m. with my FitBit having a bit of a freak out. The vibrations around my wrist drag me out of bed where I sit and stare at the exercise bike sitting two feet away. I don't really need to do this today, do I? Of course not. But I know (as do the rest of you) that once I skip a day, I'll skip the next. So I immediately change into my workout clothes, stick my FitBit in my sock (because it won't count pedals on my wrist) and check my email for the next 20-30 minutes. Need I add that I hate this part? Okay, I hate the first half of that exercise bout, but by the time I stumble off, I reluctantly admit I feel energized. Even better? I got the worst part of my day over with before the clock strikes six.
I feed the cat, fix breakfast for myself and my mother, and we clear something we recorded on the DVR from the previous night—or watch the latest episode of whatever we are binge-viewing on Netflix. By 8:30, I'm at my desktop computer to answer emails, check in on social media, update my calendar and, in the case of this morning, write the blog that's due later that day. The timer on my phone goes off at 9 a.m. because it's time to get to work. The real work. Yay! It's writing time!
My writing desk is one of my happy places. It's also in my favorite room in the house, my kitchen. As you can see, my space is a reflection of my quirky personality and filled with fictional friends and inspirational sayings and images. Wonder Woman, Sam and Dean Winchester—for those who enjoy Supernatural you understand why—Olaf from Frozen, they all keep me company as I create.
All those dolls lined up in the back? Once upon a time I had a Barbie who represented each of my heroines. I can't do that anymore...I ran out of room and money to buy them, LOL. But I still have some in boxes in case I need added inspiration. My laptop is ancient—going on ten years—but it's only for writing; no Internet, no games. Nothing to distract me while I work and get my pages for the day. Meaning it's time to hit the keys.
I write with a daily goal of 2500 words. That's about ten pages and, as with today, I push myself to at least make that many since my story, Love in Focus, is due to my editor next week. I'm still 10 K shy but I should make it. Some days it takes two, three-hour sessions to get to the goal. Today, I hit it by noon. Yay! That's with a break every hour to refill my water bottle and walk around the house to keep my circulation going.
Getting done early also means I can actually go for lunch rather than zapping a plastic dinner in the microwave. Also, I've been on a healthy kick since returning from RWA this past July so veggies are always on the menu. Today was a skinny version of pasta alfredo with spinach and chicken. Yum! (I mean that by the way, but next time, broccoli).
Another couple of episodes of the show we're watching while we eat—happens to be Longmire these days since season six starts soon—do the dishes and it's back to the desktop to answer more emails and do any research I need for my story. Except... Ah, great. No internet. Again. Lovely. (Rails at Comcast). Okay then. I have a couple more blogs I can get out of the way. Type, type, type. Oh, new ideas for the book I need to start by November first so I can meet my deadline of January second. I grab the notebook I started for that story and scribble furiously. Longhand notes keep the ideas in my brain. Idea banished to paper? Brain clear? Cool.
By four pm or so I'm done for the day. I walk the house for a while to kick up my steps so I reach my 8,000 a day goal. If I don't do this I'll be pacing my room before going to bed. I don't like to do that. A light snack for dinner, I watch my favorite news program, followed by whatever show still holds my interest—there aren't a lot of them anymore—and I'm in bed by 9:30 pm at the latest because guess what?
I get to do it all over again tomorrow. Cue FitBit freak out.
Yay! Oh, add to calendar: buy new DVD of Romancing the Stone because I've worn mine out.