Why I Can’t Write a Book Every Year

One of the questions I get almost every place I go is a request to describe my work day.  When I was young, it was action packed.  I wrote 4000 words a day, practiced my music, went to theater or movies with my husband, made family dinners with his three sons.  I even tutored in an after-school program.

That was then, this is now.  Over the years, various parts of my body have stopped functioning, some from age, some from a car wreck I was in 5 years ago.  My day now starts with my exercise program,  I have a routine for my neck, which means also strengthening the traps, the pecs and the abs.  My antique knees have their own regimen.  A general stretching to warm up the whole body.

Then it’s time for the first cappuccino of the day, made according to Intelligentsia’s rigorous prescription.

Believe me, mine don't look like this

The dog must be walked, and then, of course, the aging body must have aerobic exercise to keep the aging brain functioning.

Aerobic Exercise

By now, it’s 11 a.m and I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Today, I learned that yet another failing body part will take hours of attention each day.  I have rotten teeth–I’ve had 17 root canals.  And despite obsessive-compulsive flossing and brushing, one tooth rotted so badly that my whole jaw began to disintegrate.  Bone grafts followed, and a titanium implant.  Today I learned that the implant requires a special regimen all its own.  I believe that  regimen will take the time in the morning formerly alotted to writing.  And by then, it will be lunch time, followed by the afternoon nap.  A second cappuccino, a glance at the e-mails.  By now, I have to knock off to make dinner.  Eating means the implant must be watered and groomed once again.  Forget music, tutoring, or writing–this gets me to bed time–once midnight or 1 a.m., now a decorous 10 or 10:30.

Believe me, I am working harder than any time in the past!

  • So you skipped right over the golden years into the titanium age?
    I do believe you are working harder than ever…. I sure seem to have to expend twice the energy in order to accomplish half of what I used to do! Sigh.

  • LOL!!!! Oh I feel your dental pain. Rotten teeth courtesy of a childhood dentist who (we belatedly learnt) paid for his alcoholic demons via the mouths of myself and my 6 siblings – twice yearly visits, never less than 5 cavities each despite no cakes and lollies at home and lots of brushing! Result – an adulthood of over-filled teeth fracturing.

    Wanted to say congratulations on the HCR bill (certainly not perfect, especially not for women) but such a huge first step. Very moving. Watched the vote yesterday down here in Oz, via Michael Moore’s website streaming it.

    However, just saw your tweet 🙁 re the thugs.

    Good luck to all against the wing nuts and the mad hatter’s tea party. Stay safe.

  • Penny Thornton

    Yes, running fast but standing still. I know the feeling, Sara. I’m hanging onto my teeth but suffering for it with ultra sensitivity to hot & cold, lashings of desensitising toothpaste and nothing crunchy to eat. Oh joy!

  • Shirley

    I’m still trying to make good mochas at home without buying one of those huge, expensive machines that takes up all the counter space. Your golden is beautiful–how old is she?

  • Patricia

    Adore this form of Aerobic Exercise.
    No time like the present…

  • Patricia

    Retract the term ‘miracle’ from the last blog – awed by the sheer physio discipline routine.

    Very bonny golden four footed…

  • And you still had the strength to come over here..! Next time we’ll come to you. All of us.

  • Idzan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    I always wonder how do writers live? Do they have regular lives like us? When do they have the time to churn out books after books? Thanks for sharing that you too are subjected to aches and pains like us regular mums.
    Do you go to Maine or Cape Cod or the Adirondacks when you write? Or do you write at home in Chi-Town? Some writers need solitude and away from the madding crowd.
    BTW, have you decided on the title of your new book? Or will you keep us in mystery still? Best from your loyal Malaysian fan.

  • JN Welsh

    Don’t forget time for blogging…you’ll be fine as long as the doctors don’t ever make you give up the cappucino. (Yet poor V.I. gets stuck with that stove-top espresso maker. Couldn’t someone get her a nice cappucino maker, or one could somehow wind up as evidence? Except she wouldn’t clean it and the milk would get cruddy on the wand.)

  • A.B.

    Yes, why do we have to age? It’s not fair.

    I’m rigorous with that aerobic regimen too – every day! To enhance my walking exercise, I buy chocolate on my way out. I can tell you it works!

  • genny from jersey

    Sara, I don’t know how you do it all.

    We’re retired and it seems there is never enough time in the day. We have made a commitment to work out at the gym every other day–that’s a 2+ hour project. Sometimes all the energy for the day is left at the gym.

    Please know that your efforts to continue telling V I’s story is truly appreciated.

  • genny from jersey

    Oh one more thing, any plans to be at the Printer’s Row Fair this summer?

  • Holy cow…you’ve got your plate full, that’s for sure. I am not fond of the dentist so I totally sympathize with you there. I keep wondering where all my energy has gone. So it’s age, huh? Figures. I do like your form of aerobic exercise, by the way 🙂

  • SueD

    Never knew it would be like this. I was amazed when my thumbs gave out and I had to have new joints. Then the shoulders. Oh well. We’re in the keep moving and smiling years I guess. I’m just so glad you are able to produce what you do. There is so much in each of your novels.

  • Sue, I didn’t know the thumbs gave out–something else to look forward to! Pam, what a horror story–I’m so sorry. And thanks for all the empathic comments. Maybe we should plan to meet this summer for a g roup groan.
    BTW I will be at Printers Row. When they give a date & time, I’ll put it on the calendar. Izdan, I’ll do a separate blog to answer your interesting questions, & I’ll include a photo of me with my cappuccino machine, Signor Pasquini. And finally, Bag Lady, Titanium Age –LOL–am recycling that one~


  • I was wondering if u are going to write a book in the furure sry about your detist problem the last. Book I read last is hardball ty good luck let me on my email updated stuff take care

  • jackgh

    I love VI and all her adventures. Maybe especially because I, like you, spent four years as a scholar on Mount Oread. I read somewhere that you worked as a dishwasher while you were in school and I have been curious about where. I myself washed dishes at the Phi Kappsa Tau fraternity house for one year and also worked in various journalism and other writing and editing jobs. (You were at KU a few years after I had moved on to better? things.)

  • A. Joyce

    Good luck.  And take care of your body.  We, the readers, can wait.  I say this as someone who was diagnosed with severe autoimmune arthritis at twenty-five, dropped out of school, and now at thirty-seven have gone back.  I struggle to write every day, and I struggle to find the concentration to read, and I struggle to do classwork and still have time to work out, and pet the cats and sometimes, maybe, go out on a date.  I feel like this at thirty-seven and I can’t imagine what life will be like in twenty years.

    Unabashedly, I live for your books.  But your health and happiness as a person are more important than your worth as an artist.  Take care of yourself.

    (Morbidly, my teeth are starting to fail too and no money for so much as a cleaning, what sort of maintenance do implants require?)

  • Stevie Cameron

    Sara — I have enjoyed every one of your books; I have them all. And I have crap knees and a Jura cappuccino machine I love almost as much as my Cairn terrier Frances, so I get it about the knees and the cappuccino school. I had always hoped to write crime fiction, but I am a journalist who seems to be stuck in non-fiction, although all my books are about criminals: crooked politicians and serial killers. Well, just one serial killer, but he deserved two books. Your fan, Stevie Cameron


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