“Where did the time go” is a phrase I utter so frequently I feel as if I own it. I wish I could tell you that the reason for the feeling of time flying is because I am so engrossed in writing my next novel on a daily basis. Some days I am, thankfully. But there are also many days in which the hours are consumed by laundry, kids, emails, Facebook—and sea turtles.
My goal is 10-20 pages on a good day. I like to start early in the morning, when my mind is fresh and the creativity at its best. I love those special moments when I wake with words in my head and dialogue so fresh on my lips I mutter them aloud. Typically though, my day begins with a good cup of coffee and a read of my local newspaper. Then it’s pet duty-- feeding and cleaning up after my three dogs and two cats.
Now however, it’s summer and the peak of the very busy sea turtle nesting season. Turtles rule my schedule. When I get the call at 6:30 in the morning that tracks are found, I fly out the door to the beach to join my teammates to search for eggs, move them if needed, and set up the protection signs. At night I’m usually at the beach by 9 pm to monitor the nests and guide the hatchlings to the sea.
As distracting as these duties are from writing, the adventures I experience with my Island Turtle Team are the perfect muse for my current book. I’m working on the prequel to THE BEACH HOUSE, so searching for turtle tracks, probing for eggs and supervising nest boils fit perfectly into my fictional world. The conversations shared, getting my hands in the sand, playing a small role in the risky game of life for these sea turtles help fuel the storytelling process. Even though I find myself away from my computer more than I’d like to be on some days, it doesn’t mean that I am not working. It is these moments that create the words that I store to get to next paragraph, the next chapter, the next scene.
Still, the pages need to get written. Deadlines loom. There is no substitute for putting my hands to the keyboard and producing pages of story. Knowing when to turn off the research and turn on the creativity is critical to the process. I know this. I do. I tell myself this every day, multiple times a day.
Ah, but on those balmy nights when the moon is high and creates that ribbon of moonlight along the ocean, when the breeze is just strong enough to keep the gnats and mosquitoes at bay, when I’m sitting with my friends, my legs stretched out over the sand and we’re just talking about everything and nothing….
Where did the time go?
Mary Alice Monroe is an award-winning, bestselling author of thirteen novels, plus one on the way. Look for TIDES OF MEMORY to be released in the spring 2012. For more information, visit www.maryalicemonroe.com.