Juggling parenthood, a husband, dinner time and school runs … just the tip of the writing rollercoaster for Glynis Astie.
I don’t know about you, but when I picture how a writer spends his/her day, I visualize something thought provoking and glamorous. Just close your eyes and imagine with me. A large, light-filled room with hardwood floors, an overstuffed cream-colored sofa and an antique desk complete with a state-of-the-art laptop.
The room is tastefully decorated, with elegant rugs, throw pillows, framed works of art and vases of fresh flowers. The whole atmosphere just oozes sophistication. This is the kind of place where creativity thrives! A place where great works of fiction are written. It sounds lovely doesn’t it? I didn’t realize what a fantasy this was until I actually became a writer. (Though I still like to imagine Jane Green writing in such an environment. She is so elegant!) The average author still has a day job and crams in writing wherever possible in whatever space is available.
In my case, my day job is one that I have always wanted to do – though I will wholeheartedly admit that I had no idea how difficult it would be until I undertook it. Drum roll, please. I am lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom! This means that a typical day of writing goes something like this.
A set of chubby hands yank on my hair at five am and a little voice tells me that it is time to get up. I reach out, pull the little guy into the bed and proceed to snuggle him for the next hour. He then insists that we get up since he must eat that very minute. We venture downstairs and find his older brother reading his latest Star Wars book. The boys negotiate over a TV show to watch while I prepare their breakfasts and my much-needed coffee. Once they have food in front of them, I pull out my laptop and do a quick social media check.
While I make my older son’s lunch, I tweet, participate in Facebook discussions and answer emails. If I am lucky, I have time to make a quick list of what my writing assignments are for the day. There is usually at least one blog post, a book review and a chapter from my latest work-in-progress. It may sound ambitious, but a girl can dream! It is then mad dash to make sure that everyone gets dressed, brushes their teeth and takes care of any necessary business before leaving for school.
Once the boys are in school, I race home and consult my list. I make myself another cup of coffee and am about to settle down with my laptop when I remember that I have a huge pile of laundry that I need to deal with, so I head off to tackle it. Once the laundry has been started, I walk into the kitchen to retrieve my laptop. I am then met with the sink full of dirty dishes. Sigh. AND the dishwasher needs to be emptied. I bite my lip, roll my eyes and quickly deal with the gigantic pile.
Once that task is done, my husband calls and engages me in a lengthy dialogue about something that doesn’t affect me in any way. Since I barely get any time with him, I sit and listen to him and try to get some further housework done while we are “talking.” (The truth is that he is the only one doing the talking, but he has an awesome French accent, so I love to listen to him.) After I get off of the phone with him, I notice that an hour has passed and I have not gotten any writing done. Rats! I disengage myself from my housework and grab my laptop.
I make the mistake of checking my email and find a huge pile of alerts from Twitter and Facebook outlining new activity. Unable to contain my curiosity, I sift through the emails, navigating from page to page, smiling, commenting and generally having a grand old time, while I enjoy my second cup of coffee. What feels like five minutes later, I realize that it is now lunch time. Where did the morning go? The boys will be home before I know it!
I quickly grab something to eat and sit at the kitchen table with my laptop, determined not to get sucked into the social media vortex again. I manage to get a book review written, post the review in all of the necessary places and share on Twitter and Facebook. (Yes, I know what I said about the vortex, but this is for the sake of someone else!)
Once I have extracted myself from social media yet again, I refer back to my list of writing assignments. I have a blog post to write for one of my favorite book reviewers, a bunch of interview questions to answer and oh, my next novel to work on. I start with the interview questions since they seem the easiest to answer – at least in theory. I begin to ponder the answers and proceed to overthink every single one of them.
Once I finally decide how I am going to answer a question, I will then obsess about the wording to the nth degree. I mean, I am a writer, after all; people are going to expect me to sound intelligent. Pressure! An hour later, I have answered all of the questions and have also come up with something that is both honest and funny for the blog post. I take a deep breath and get up to make myself my third cup of coffee of the day. (Hey, I’m trying to curb my sweets; I have to substitute with something!) I settle onto the couch with my laptop and pull out my Darth Vader notebook.
Nothing says chick lit like the dark side of the force, right? I spend ten minutes reading through my notes before pulling up my work-in-progress. I am about to reread the last chapter that I wrote when my sister (who I am also lucky enough to call my editor and cover designer) calls me to check in. I haven’t spoken with her in days – which is a long time for us – and I lose myself in chatting with her for the next thirty minutes. I bid adieu to my sister and do a quick time check.
I have thirty minutes until my older son gets home from school. I scramble back to the couch with my laptop and read through my latest chapter. After making a few edits, I look up to find my son at the front door. I jump up, open the door and give him the enormous hug that he deserves. The next hour is spent doing homework and playing games. I feel a small twinge of guilt for not getting more work done, but remind myself that my kids are my priority. I continue to enjoy my time with him and resolve that I will get more work done when the boys are in bed.
The two of us then run out to get his younger brother from school and we have a grand old time playing until my husband gets home. While preparing dinner, I have my laptop out, perusing social media channels to find out what I missed since my last check-in. In between food preparation, I chat, tweet and email, somehow managing to cook a meal for me and my husband and two other meals for the little picky eaters. I jot down random ideas that come to me as I cook (why is it always while I am dicing onions?) and hope that my creativity will stay with me well into the night.
After the usual circus that is bath and bedtime, I settle into bed with my laptop. You guessed it! I do a social media check first and lose a good thirty minutes. Though in all fairness, this time is punctuated by several trips to check on my boys as they call out for water, pillow fluffing or one more kiss. They have incredible stalling tactics indeed. I have no idea where they get it from… Once the boys are finally silent, I pull up my book and try to remember where I was this afternoon. I consult Darth Vader once again to see if he can offer me any of the inspiration I had found earlier in the day. Then my husband turns on the TV and I lose my concentration.
I cannot tune out voices or sounds to save my life. I debate with myself about adjourning to the guest room to get some writing done or just throwing in the towel and spending some quality time with my husband. Quality time usually wins out because I feel my eyes beginning to droop.
Wee Hours of the Morning
Once my husband falls asleep, the real work begins! The TV is turned off and suddenly I have blissful silence. Most of the time my mind wakes up and I am able to write true works of brilliance. (At least the words sound brilliant to me at the time.) I pour everything that I have into my current chapter and only give up once I am so tired that my words no longer make sense.
Then I relinquish my laptop and fall asleep, knowing that I will start the process all over again tomorrow. So there you have it! It is far from glamorous, but I certainly find my writing life rather entertaining. If you are curious as to the products of my late night writing sessions, please check out my French Twist series!
Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naive to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over.
Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met? As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months. With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…
Glynis Astie grew up as the youngest of three children in Rockland County, New York. Her mother remarried when she was six and she gained not only an amazing father, but three wonderful sisters. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern University and worked in Social Service for two years before transitioning to Human Resources. After thirteen years in Human Resources, she decided to make good on her promise to write a book. Rather than detailing the years of bizarre employee relations issues she had encountered (as this may land her in more than a bit of trouble), she elected to write the story of how she met and married her husband, Sebastien, in six short months. The end result is French Twist. And because this novel chronicles merely the beginning of an epic love story, Glynis has just released the sequel, French Toast, and is working on the final instalment in the series, French Fry. Glynis currently lives in Westchester, New York with her incredibly romantic husband and two angelic sons.