Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Seven-Pound Book

At a recent book signing, a woman was examining me and my new book. When found out I did the cover art as well, she said with disgust, "You write AND paint? Oh, I don't like you."

"Wait a minute," I said, "I can't keep house. I'm extremely messy. How's that?"

"That's better." And she smiled, feeling slightly superior at least in one area of our lives.

Well lady, here's another imperfection. I've gained weight. There. I said it. In the last four years, two children and three books, I've gained 7.3 pounds. Not the willy nilly weight that comes and goes easily, but the boy-this-is-stubborn-I-ain't-going-nowhere kind of weight. It SEEMS, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, but this writing lifestyle does a doozy on your hind side. Authors, can I get an Amen?

So here's the deal. I have this obnoxious Weight Watchers scale in my bathroom that tells you way to much information. It's digital. It's not one of those step on and step off things with the little red arm that points to your number. It's a bit complicated, and as such, I decided to leave the big red sticker on it that tells me how to work the thing. Lest I forget between usage.

I realized something this morning about that dad-gum scale. It's a whole lot like my writing process. Let me explain.

Step 1: Tap Here

You must tap with your toe the big red sticker on the glass scale. Tapping is crucial. It gets the ball rolling. Without the tapping, nothing happens. Same in my writing. I tap into two places, my head and my heart. Tap, tap. In my writing life, I "Tapped Here" a couple months ago after I turned in my last manuscript for a book that will be coming out next spring.

Step 2: Wait for 0.0
Once you've "Tapped here", you must WAIT for the digitized 0.0 to show up before you can do anything. If you get on the scale before the 0.0 appears, you will see this: ERR

ERR. This, to me, is the most maddening part of the writing process. The waiting. The false starts. The ERRs staring me in the face. I pray, I ponder, I pay attention to anything and everything around me, searching, squeezing, pressing my brain cells and my heart for that thing, that ONE thing, that is speaking to me the loudest. That story that I must tell and commit the next however-many-months to. This, I'm afraid, is when I also begin to eat. A lot. Not only am I trying to come up with an idea, I am out promoting my book that's just come out. Raise your hand if you know that authors eating out on the road is not good for the waistline. And for me, double whammy, when my brain is in search mode, it initiates a repetitive hand-to-mouth reflex.

Thank you Lord, I'm happy to say my scale zeroed out yesterday. Hooray! No more ERR staring at me, but a put-your-finger-on-it 0.0. I have my story idea. Angels are singing somewhere. It took a while, but Whew!

Step 3: Step On

Step on. Step on. Now is the time I can step on the scale and see my present and future. I see my weight, my body fat weight, my body fat percentage, my body water, and my bone density. Uggh. This is not such a good thing. Look at all the work I have to do in so many areas. I'll have to watch my calories. I'll have to exercise. I'll have to change the way I do things in order to reach my goal. I'll admit, it looks like a lot of work. Am I up for this challenge?
The scale is like my writing life, as I said. I see my goal with this new book. I must say, the challenge is steep. Look at all the things I have to do. In the next seven months, I will have to change the way I do things, get more disciplined, more focused with my time, with my energy. I'll have to pray daily for inspiration. I'll have to exercise my mind and my fingers. At the end of this book, I want to be 75,000 words heavier and 7 pounds lighter. The challenge begins today. I'm officially in mind/body training.

See, if I don't get a handle on this, I'm doomed. At this rate, I won't be able to get out of my seat in another few books. Writing is my passion. My life. I want to keep doing this thing that maddens me and gives me such euphoric joy. I do not, however, want to gain weight with each and every book I squeeze out.

The metaphor (scale to writing) is a little cheesy, I'll admit. Mmmm. cheese. But do any of you writers find that it's easy to ignore your body and your health when you're writing? How is it that matters of the mind and heart can make us stick our body on the bottom of the priority list?

My wake up call came when I stepped on my infuriating scale this morning and saw how much work I have to do in the next seven months. But if there's one thing I've learned as a writer, it's that the best things in life are worth fighting for. The harder it is, the bigger the pay off.

I'm up for the challenge.

If any of you writers out there would like to give me your tips on beating the bulge, I'd be much obliged. Please comment or send me a note at nicole@nicoleseitz.com


Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous low country magazines. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole hails from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina where she writes, paints her covers, and lives with her husband and two small children. Today she is working on her next book.

Trouble the Water
Nicole Seitz
Released March 11, 2008
Thomas Nelson
Trade Paper, ISBN-10 1595544003
Visit http://www.nicoleseitz.com/

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