Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Process of Work by Carolyn Haines

When I talk about writing, people often ask me my work schedule. As the heat and humidity have settled over Semmes, Alabama, I am now officially in the “summer schedule.” I have different schedules for different seasons, because the weather outside dictates much of how I live my life. And when I write.

My brain works best (if you can call two cells clacking against each other working) in the morning. Heck, everything works best for me in the morning, even my hair. This is my favorite time to write. On the “summer schedule” I get less a.m. writing time, but I make it work.

Coffee at 6 a.m. and a tussle with dogs and cats. If I am going to ride a horse or a bike or do any lawn or pasture work, now is the time. As July stretches toward August, the prospect of any outdoor activity grows more and more daunting. So probably, I will catch the news and answer e-mails. I’m working on a creepy book, so I write that while the day is just beginning, so hopefully I will be over the creepiness by dark. Yes, I am such a goober that I write things that scare me. Ask my neighbors. I’ve had to call them to come over when I’ve scared myself so badly I was afraid to go into the bathroom. Why do I do this? See reference above to two brain cells.

The dogs and I travel out to the front yard to perform tricks. They can jump the horse jumps, leap through hula hoops bungee-corded to a row of crepe myrtle trees, travel through a hollow barrel—all on command. Of course they don’t come when I call them, but they will perform circus tricks.

I have seven lovely horses, and I hose them down and feed them around 9:30. In the summer heat, the older horses and the obese horses (They hardly eat anything. I swear. They have glandular conditions and poor metabolisms!) are stalled. Either to keep them out of the sun and heat as much as possible or to restrain them from grazing 24/7.

By now I am sweating bullets and heat sick, so I saunter inside. When I sit at my desk to work, at least four of the eight cats want to climb on my lap. Cats, I’ve discovered, have a fetish for stinky humans. They love the way their kitty hair clings to sweaty skin. They believe that if I’m allowed to type anything at all, Satan will possess my soul and I will be taken straight to the fiery lake—and who will then open their cans of gourmet cat food? But I type around them. Good thing my father forced me to learn the touch system.

The prospect of lunch looms large. What to eat? What to eat? Too hot for anything to sound appetizing, so I go and hose the horses again. Miss Scrapiron is 32, and the heat is hard on her. Now I’m really, really hot.

Back to the computer. BONE APPETIT is on the agenda. The cats are napping, so I have alone time to think. This is excellent. Writing is solitary work, but I look forward to time with the Zinnia gang. Those girls are so bad—and they get to do all the things I can’t with forty pounds of cat on my lap, six dogs watching the door like hawks in case I might crank up the truck for a ride, and dieting horses out in the barn waiting for the afternoon feeding (which is, literally, two cups of feed).

This is bliss. Three or four dogs snore beside my chair, the cats have given up and snooze on window sills or the tops of chairs. Even the horses are drowsy. I can work. So I do.

As the heat crests, time for more hosing of horses, afternoon feeding (some would say cruel and tantalizing snack) and horsey freedom. Stalls to clean, dogs to chase, cats to awaken from kitty comas and torment. Ah, it’s five o’clock somewhere and a libation calls my name. Time to slowly sip a bit of Jack and think about the lovely prospect of the “winter schedule.”

Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Delta Mystery series. GREEDY BONES, the 9th in the series, was released this month by St. Martin’s Minotaur. A native of Mississippi, Haines was recently awarded the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award. She is an avid animal activist. Join her on Facebook here: . Also be sure to check out her website and sign up for her newsletter here:


Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

This made me want to drive down and help you hose horses but after reading this, I'm too tired to drive! You amaze me Carolyn!

Carolyn said...

Today, I need to be hosed myself. It's stinking hot!

carolinavic said...

My husband is the State Veterinarian and when he was in private practice I remember him hosing down horses! He was a reproduction specialist so horses hated to see him coming!

carolinavic said...

My husband is the State Veterinarian and when he was in private practice I remember him hosing down horses at his clinic. He was a reproduction specialist and horses hated to see him coming!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Beautiful horses. I used to live in Vestavia Hills, AL. Hot there, but beautiful.

Mystery Writing is Murder