New Year. THANK GOD.

by Alexandra Sokoloff

Ah, a New Year.   Thank God, is all I can say.

There’s a great line from Bridget Jones’ Diary, the book, which I always re-read around this time of year, that I would quote here verbatim if I had the book with me, which I don’t, as you will understand in a minute, so I’ll sum up: she is ranting about now unfair it is of – whoever – that just as we’ve all gotten used to putting whatever we feel like in our mouths for a month straight we’re suddenly expected to resume work and perfect discipline as if the whole past month’s debauch never happened.   

Well, I agree. 

Furthermore, I know I am not the only writer in this community who feels I am so off track with my writing after the holidays that I have no idea how to get back on, so I just thought I’d out myself on that subject right away in case anyone else can relate.

I have such a hard time with the week between Christmas and New Year’s in general that this week I impulsively – and perhaps ill-advisedly, given that it’s WINTER – decided to drive across the country with two cats and my Southern California wardrobe, just to have something to keep my mind off this end of the year panic.  

Well, it was a little more complicated than that, but still – when in doubt, road trip, is what I say.

Of course, being from Southern California, I still have no real concept of winter, so when I found myself driving in SNOW with two really angry cats screaming at me from the back seat, I started to reconsider the plan.   By then of course I was too far along to go back, so, well, anyway, I was snowed in for a day somewhere in Arizona, but we got out of it okay enough.  Even without this thing you apparently are supposed to have for snow, called chains.   I mean, tire chains.  Where do they come up with these things?

So I spent my New Year’s Eve in a hotel in Albuquerque, doing galley corrections.   (Did I mention that I got galleys two days before Christmas?   Due just after New Year’s?  That seems to be when they show up, as I know others here can attest).

Look, there are worse things, and I’m not really complaining.   I have two books coming out this year.   I have to remember that.   And it IS the New Year, now, or really Monday it will be, because this weekend is just strange.  

But despite the fact that I wouldn’t really recommend driving anywhere  (much less across the entire country in winter) with two cats unless there’s no other way around it, I feel a lot better being on the road.   There’s nothing else to do but drive and space out, enforced meditation, and then I did my galleys in the hotels at night, and movement just feels like – movement.  Which I needed.

It occurred to me on the drive portion of today (gorgeous) – that my malaise had a lot to do with the fact that I am at the exact same place in BOTH books that I am in the process of writing.  That would be – in the first draft, my least favorite part of the writing process, and in the third quarter of each draft – usually my least favorite part of any book or script.   So no wonder I freaked out and thought it would be a good idea to drive across the country in winter.  I would have done just about anything to get away, and that was the first semi-justifiable thing that came to mind.

But I got my galleys done (finding someplace to mail them in is another story), there was no snow today, and the road trip is having the intended effect of vacuuming out my brain, which it sorely needed after the last year (don’t ask…), and now I can focus in the afternoons on teaching my online Screenwriting Tricks For Authors class, and teaching always makes me remember why I write.   I can’t very well coax a class into keeping going on that $#%^&*!  first draft without talking myself into it as well.

So okay, this all might be a strange way to start off the year, but it IS a new year, and we all have a chance to start fresh.  And I don’t know about you all, but man, do I need that.

That was my week.  

How was yours?

– Alex



17 thoughts on “New Year. THANK GOD.

  1. pari noskin taichert

    You were in ABQ and you didn’t call? WTF? You are sooooooooooo on my list!

    It’s been a productive time for me — mellow and food-filled — but I’ve gotten work done. Today, I’m feeling like this new year is going to be a good one.

    I sure hope it is. For ALL of us.

  2. JD Rhoades

    I am so off track with my writing after the holidays that I have no idea how to get back on, so I just thought I’d out myself on that subject right away in case anyone else can relate.

    *Raises hand*

    Two books at once, huh? I bow down.

  3. BCB

    I gave up trying to write anything more serious than a blog post during the holidays this year. Too much mayhem, though I’m trying to keep the debauchery to a minimum. I’m feeling very very good about the coming year. No idea why, I just am.

    Alex, in case you haven’t heard (yeah, I know you don’t read email), there’s a rockslide blocking I-40 west of Asheville, so if you’re coming that way be prepared for a detour. Details here:

    Safe travels!

  4. Catherine Shipton

    Nutty…that’s been my week. Everything seems out of whack. All the things I find strange I can also feel gratitude towards…it’s all a little disconcerting . I spent yesterday looking online at flights out of here…So far Ireland, Germany and Japan are on my maybe soon list.I woke up this morning and thought about living camping in the rainforest for a month after I graduate. I am feeling restless with intent.

  5. toni mcgee causey

    Alex, the idea of a road trip with two cats already would have me looking for a corner to sob in, much less in winter in the snow. You are a far braver woman than I, my friend. With two books to do? And Galleys? You are a Goddess.

    I spent yesterday and today moving things around so that the painters can get to the next room. We’ve hit a point where some of this stuff has to get done and we’ve found a couple of guys who are just flat out talented and fast and meticulous and affordable, so we’re getting the crappy stuff done so the rest of the year, we can just enjoy the house. Of course, there was a leak to deal with and floors to rip up (in my office), but luckily, the leaked ruined the old floors we were about to rip up anyway and not the spanking new ones which were about to go in, so thank you, Universe, for the favor.

    All of this around having a two-year-old in the house every-other week, all week, is interesting. But fun. She’s a joy.

    I’m writing something darker and very different for me. It’s a challenge, because the story is tighter, deeper, harder to show, so I find myself working hard to overcome my own defaults. I needed the challenge, though. I needed to look at the world differently for a while.

    Safe trip, Alex. I hope your inner journey takes you where you want to be as well.

  6. Alexandra Sokoloff

    The rainforest, Catherine? You sound like you’re in about the same place I am.

    And Toni, too – all that chaos. This is what I’m saying – it’s just a weird time of year, and it always is.

  7. Ro Watkinson

    Alex, I envy you your wanderings. I am vehicle-less at the moment and snowed in. I’ve always been a wanderer when I’m stressed, so this is making me crazy(er).

    I am also lucky enough to be in that Screenwriting for Authors class. The sheer anticipation of it helped me over the feeling of being trapped in the snowy New Hampshire mountains during one of the most depressing holiday seasons for me yet. Did I mention being trapped? <Looking wild-eyed at the foot of new snow that fell last night>

    I’m jumping back into my writing, and feeling good about it. At least in between the "Mom, I’m hungry!" and "Mom, come look what Lego Indiana Jones is doing". And feeding the woodstove to keep us warm. The Munchkin came home yesterday after a week of trekking between grandparents houses, and now requires ALL my attention until school starts tomorrow.

    When the school bus pulls away at 7am tomorrow I am back in the bliss of writing. And trying to get my characters to tell me their names.

  8. billie

    I’m late getting to this, but I LOVE the idea of a road trip with cats, driving away from the "between week" as I call that weird week between Christmas and New Year’s, and driving away from two books in difficult stages. There is nothing like driving long distances on the open road to create movement. One of my favorite drives ever was going from Texas to northern CA with my dad and my two kit-meows. So… enjoy and travel well and safe.

  9. PK the Bookeemonster

    Nothing really spectacular for the between week for me. I’ve had a nice weekend of reading. Just a bit more laundry and walking the dog today and some more reading before heading to work again … I’ll admit the two weeks of 4-day work days has been nice but ah well.
    I’d not gotten around to reading Louise Penny’s series but just finished the first one and I will be adding this series to my monthly rotation.

  10. Ev

    You had me hooked (and laughing) with: "Ah, a New Year. Thank God, is all I can say."

    I’m usually a hopelessly sentimental sap, always sad to see a year go because time seems to move so quickly, but yeah, I’m glad 2009 is done.

    Thankfully, 2010 already seems kinder–especially now that I know the good news that you have two more books coming out. I LOVED The Unseen.

    Good luck with finishing your first drafts (you’re almost done; write, write, write!)

    All the best to you in 2010,

  11. judy wirzberger

    You all must have friends and lives- Last week I was able to keep up with all my favorite sites, follow some of my favorite authors, and write the first 2,000 words of a new book, pushing the edge by writing it in first person present and de-trim the house, pack away all the red and green stuff, and scrub the bathroom floor, change the cat’s litter box, see a movie, have lunch and brunch and dinner with friends — but of course, I was on vacation from my day job – the one that keeps the bankers happy. I do so love Murderati and all it’s insane participants – the only difficult thing was figuring out where the hell Cornelia Read was – she seemed to be all over.


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