Saturday, July 16, 2011


When I first started writing my creative energy announced itself at midnight. I woke each evening at the stroke of twelve like Cinderella, only she was on her way home and I was on my way to the keyboard. I wrote from twelve to five a.m. and tiptoed back to bed, so as not to disturb my husband, when I finished for the night. That schedule worked well. I finished my first two novels, “Roseflower Creek” and “Cold Rock River”.

Gradually, writing in the middle of the night didn’t sit too well with me. Mostly, I slept, slumped in the chair in front of my computer. I got over writing at that ungodly hour and graduated to writing from six a.m. to ten in the morning. Happily, I found I could be very productive during those hours, too. I finished my third book, “Divorcing Dwayne”.

But as time rolled on, I discovered I was no longer an early riser. I would wake at eight a.m. if left on my own without an alarm clock and realized I’d missed two hours on my writing schedule. I adjusted the schedule to eight a.m. to noon, several cups of coffee at the ready. This worked out okay. I finished “All That’s True”, that debuted this past January.

I stayed on that schedule and completed my next novel “Summer Ridge” which is now in the consideration stage with my agent shopping it. “Summer Ridge” follows twelve-year-old Mary Alice Munford, who is struggling with the knowledge that her mother plans to marry her father, a man who abandoned them before she was born. It’s set in the seventies and is reminiscent of “Paper Moon”, for those of you who remember that movie. The movie was based on the book “Addie Prey”.

The opening to “Summer Ridge” begins with Mary Alice explaining her situation in life. She says:

When I was very little my mother would tell me stories about why my father wasn’t with us. First she said he was away in the war in Asia—Vietnam. Then she said he was healing from the wounds in his head that made him forget us. Now she says he’s in the Secret Service.

“Hogwash,” Granny Ruth says. “She’s filled your head with garbage.”

Back and forth, back and forth. They still can’t agree on anything. They can’t decide what bread to buy. They can’t decide on which church to go to. One thing’s for sure--they don’t agree on my father. My mother insists he’s perfect. Granny Ruth says, “And pigs can fly.”

Ours is not a happy household. There’s me, my mother, Granny Ruth and Aunt Josie, whose husband, my Uncle Earnest, fell under a combine when I was four, so I never got to know him good. The day he died, I climbed up on Aunt Josie’s lap and wouldn’t leave, even when it was time to go to bed. Mama tried to pick me up.

“You been sitting there all day, sweet thing.”

“Leave me lone, Mommie,” I said. “I’m helping Aunt Josie cry.”

Now that “Summer Ridge” is finished and in my agent’s hands, I find I’m in a writing dilemma. It’s hard for me to concentrate on a new work of fiction when I’m waiting to hear on how the most recent one is doing. I have to drag myself to the keyboard at the designated time in the morning, but mostly find that I am unproductive. I can’t seem to leave the last work behind and concentrate on a new one. It’s irritating, so mostly I force myself to sit and write no matter what falls onto the page.

Lately, I’m not too enamored with what I see and am trying to encourage myself to keep going. I often wonder if other writers have ever felt the way I do. Is my most recent book the last bit of creative writing that will fall onto the page? Do I have anything else left to say? Will the creative juices once again flow freely?

Let me know if any of you dear authors struggle with this. In the meantime I’m anxiously waiting to hear from my agent. I’m convinced the sale of “Summer Ridge” will once again get me going. I’m counting on it, so wish me luck!

Jackie Lee Miles is the author of Roseflower Creek, Cold Rock River, Divorcing Dwayne, and All That’s True. Visit her website at Write to the author at

1 comment:

Susan Cushman said...

It's encouraging to see how you remained flexible and changed your writing schedule over the years when something was no longer working. I'm such a creature of habit and habits are hard to change! I don't have a published book yet, but I can only imagine how hard it would be to go back to work right away on the next book while waiting on news of the one you just finished! Maybe you need to give yourself a break and celebrate first! I really enjoyed this post.