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Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Blogger Lilia Birney

One of the most difficult parts of being both a work at home mom and a professional writer is, I think, isolation. There are days when I go without speaking to another human being for eight hours stretches at a time. If my husband is out of town for his job, I may not speak to another adult for days at a time, unless you count the brief "hi-bye" with my daughter's teacher as I drop her off at school.

I like this life. I am, at heart, a bit of a hermit. But even to someone who, like me, relishes solitude, the life of a solitary writer can be too much at times. It's difficult not to get too wrapped up in a manuscript, not knowing when to call it a day. In fact, I find myself having to consciously adjust from "Regency-speak" to "21st century speak" as I drive to pick my daughter up from school. I find it hard to turn off the train of thoughts in my head and to come back out of my shell to share conversations when I do have someone to talk to.

That's why working on the Christmas Anthology was such a unique experience. Because we all took a member of the family, we had a chance to interact with one another as writers. We had to make sure we all understood the various branches of the family tree. We had to settle on the duke's demeanor, his household staff, even what Danby Castle looked like. As a result, I was conversing and interacting with other authors all day—not about disparate novels, but about the common threads of the tales we were weaving together.

Working on the anthology also kept me on track. I realize that now. I had so many people depending on me to get my part of the story done on time that I didn't have the luxury of frittering my time away on social media and household distractions. It was a fruitful collaborative experience that engaged me with my fellow writers and critique partners and made me realize that I could, with a little effort and focus, tear through three chapters in a day. I miss that now, as I struggle through the last half of the last act of my current work-in-progress. As I grind through these last few chapters, I wish Ava Stone, Jane Charles, Catherine Gayle,  or Jerrica Knight-Catania were sending me reminders and updates so I felt not quite so alone, and part of a grand and wonderful experiment in writing.

To wrap up this blog, I'll include an excerpt from my story in the anthology, A Second Chance for Christmas. In this scene, my heroine, Emily Barlow, is feeling utterly alone as she leaves her solicitor's office, having just heard that her husband left her without a penny when he died:

Outside the solicitor's office, she leaned against the wall, panting and fanning herself. She was no better than a pauper—no better than she had been when she went to live with Uncle Arthur and Aunt Millie as a young girl. The only child of penniless parents, taken in as a charity case. Her marriage was supposed to secure her place in Society, not simply rent that place to her only to snatch it away with Charles' death.
She wept when her husband died, for while she didn't love him she was grateful to him for all he had given her. But now, if he were here and standing beside her, she'd give his eyes a jolly good scratching. She'd trusted him with everything, and how was that trust repaid?
Gathering her skirts with her courage, she headed down the steps and back to the Bridge Inn. How far away home was—and little Rose. Her heart gave a flip-flop and she calculated how quickly she could reach Sheffield. From here in Norwich, she'd take the public post tomorrow morning, and be home within four days. If only there was a way to send word home and beg Anna to begin packing and readying baby Rose for the journey. Well, she'd just have to pack quickly once they arrived. And then, she'd have to decide what she was going to do with the rest of her life.

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  1. Lilia, I feel as you do. Sometimes I want to be a hermit! I get distracted very easily, and if I were a hermit, I would be able to kick out lots of stories! lol

    Your story in the anthology is very good!!!


  2. Lilia, I can totally relate to this post! I loved, loved, loved working on the anthology -- I was so excited and inspired to write that story, because it was just so much fun writing *with* all of you! I'm not nearly as inspired now that I'm back to my own, separate projects. lol.

    But I LOVED your anthology story, and I'm so excited for others to fall in love with it too!

  3. Oh, Lilia...I'm a hermit, too. But I've got too many distractions, so I'm constantly on the move to find a good writing hole. LOL.

    I love the idea of sending each other emails or something to keep on track, though. We can maybe work something like that out. I'll email you!

  4. Hey, How can I join this? I'm a real hermit..and carve out hours of time each day to write... pleae check out what I've done in the last two months at www.JuneJMcInerney.com...I think "The Blessed Basset of Bethlehem" from "The Basset Chronicles" would be a great additon. Thanks!

  5. I know what you mean about the isolation. Good thing for the internet - it helps me stay connected with like-minded people!