Monday, November 9, 2009

The Black Hole

Ah, I'm following up very tough competition. Simone has the cute factor and isn't afraid to work it. I should have taken some pictures of my two girls peering over the top of the laptop, after all, that more than anything illustrates what living with this writer is like: three other people I share my life with trying to get Mama's attention away from "The Black Hole."

The Black Hole is my laptop, although strictly speaking it's not the laptop itself but the headspace I get into when a story is flowing that absorbs everything around me without any discrimination. My better half coined the phrase, and now even the 3 yr old uses the term interchangeably with 'puter. 'Puter or Black Hole, when Mama's on it, do not disturb.

I'm not a bad parent, truly. I gave them all my undivided attention up until last spring, when I hit 39 and was slowly consumed by the desire to do something for myself, which morphed quickly into the creative outlet of writing. At first, I "tried" it to see if I could. Then after I wrote the first novella, I quickly got an idea for another...and another...and, you get the point. 39 years of stifled creativity began to spew forth and I was lost.

Finally, my lifelong battle with insomnia became a plus. I would tuck my three into bed (yes, my husband too), and hit the screen until the wee hours of the morning. When school started, getting up to get the oldest to the bus on time wasn't a chore anymore, because it got me up and at 'em, with quiet time to work before the little one woke up.

I do try to limit my work time to non-kid time, but sometimes when the muse is whispering, I rely on my partner to take his turn with the kids and leave me to my keyboard. Practical cat that he is, this became much more palatable when the contracts began rolling in. The kids are still able to get my attention when they need it, and honestly, I have learned to try to put off any writing until after they are all in bed, using my daytime hours for the proofing and FLE I also do, as well as maintaining all my "Devon stuff."  Creation happens between about 9pm and 2am every night (Pacific time).

I'm most emphatically NOT a desk person, spent way too many years as a desk jockey in the business world to associate it with creativity. So after much trial and error, I finally settled into the old chair and ottoman that came second-hand from a hotel chain I used to manage, tucked into the corner of the guest room/office upstairs (good feng shui). Some of my best spates of story-crafting have come here, and this is where you can picture me, spinning tales and writing blog posts. It fits me, and I have the option of legs up, computer on lap, or criss-cross-applesauce with the laptop on the ottoman.

Since I'm more panster than plotter (and that is way understated), I have to go with the flow when the story is coming to me. Regular hours are by necessity as a mom, but there have been times when I just need to remove myself for a day from family life and let it all out on screen. I give this a rating, and even when it's tempting during daylight, only when I hit def-con five, code red, blinking lights, do I actually pull myself away from the kids to that point, I wouldn't be much use as mom anyway as my mind churns away, prompting repetitive, "What was that, sweetie?"

I'm still a complete newb as far as writing habits & pacing myself, and my family and I are learning as we go. One thing I do know is that this is something that I can honestly never see myself "retiring" from. And though the laptop is going to be replaced on 1/2/10, and I might have to bolster the sagging cushion under me, I can tell you with certainty that the big 4-0 in February is going to be only the first of many big 0's that I celebrate with a cozy cuddle in "my" chair, The Black Hole open in front of me, doing what I love. And fingers crossed that my family gives me a fond and indulgent look before letting Mom do her thing.  Couldn't do it without them!


  1. I write romance and my other half writes movie scripts. Our 5 year-old is likely going to be an actor or writer as he has time to develop his imagination quite a bit. Luckily, circumstances have been such that we don't usually write at the same time and at least one of us focuses on our son.

    When he gets that look in his eyes, you know, the vacant one - (lol) I know it'll be me with the kid-o that evening.


  2. I love the idea of "black hole" as a synonym for one's computer (especially in the mouth of a child)!

  3. Devon;

    Your very lucky, I think a supportive family is a writer's best asset.


  4. Hi, Devon,

    I think we're going to need a party here at the Grip to celebrate your big 4-0!

    When I saw your armchair, my back groaned...but different strokes! With the sort of dedication you describe, it's not surprising that you just broke into the market and already have half a dozen contracts.


  5. Devon,

    Welcome to the world of writing moms! You sound a lot like me. I try to write only when the kids are asleep, which means I'm up at 5 to write and then again at the computer at 9PM. I usually manage to get 3-4 hours in this way.

    I can also relate to the handing off of young ones to the spouse. We've been doing this ever since my first was born and I was struck with the need to write or go mad. We're both very lucky to have such understanding husbands ;)

    Wonderful post!

  6. Oh, your chair looks so comfy, Devon!! Much nicer than my desk chair that had duck tape, and electrical tape, on the arms. Speaking of which, it needs a new taping soon. ;)

  7. Devon,

    With an understanding family and a comfy chair, I don't think a writer can ask for more.

    Great post,


  8. Hi all, thanks for stopping by! As for my family's support it's there.. most of the time. Sometimes, though, they give me just what I need. A kick in the pants and a timely reminder to join them in "the real world". And I appreciate that just as much as when they leave me be!

  9. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!