Please welcome guest blogger Katherine Prairie!
Balance, by Katherine Prairie
If you’re like me, there’s something about fall that ignites a rush of energy and new projects. It’s the time of year too, when friends return from summer holidays, organizations restart their meetings and interesting classes are on offer. Of course, all of these added temptations occur during the months when I’m most likely readying a manuscript for my editor, and I’m left wondering how to balance it all.
I try to corral my work into a reasonable number of hours a day, but that can be difficult when it’s so easy to slip into my home office to write. Add in the unpredictable nature of creativity, and you may easily find me writing well before dawn while the rest of the household is asleep! But I remind myself that even though writing is something I enjoy, I have to draw a line somewhere or risk crowding out the rest of my life. Life-work balance … it’s a struggle that I’m sure many of you share!
But the idea of balance has me thinking about other aspects of writing too. At the heart of my Alex Graham mysteries is real science and politics specific to the location in which the story is set, and that means hundreds of hours of research. It’s easy to get caught-up in something intriguing or devote weeks of effort researching a topic that ultimately doesn’t make it into the book. Balance in research means learning when to say no. At some point I have to step away from the journals, libraries and expert resources, and just write the story.
So beyond the absolute essentials needed to start a story, I’ve started to research as I write instead of trying to do everything up-front. It’s a more balanced approach that surprisingly suggested a different organization for my research, one that has made a world of difference. I now link specific research to a section or chapter of my novel, and that makes it easier to incorporate ideas and fact-check as I write.
Balance also means knowing when to say yes, and that applies to my characters and plots. I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, but my first draft becomes an outline that serves as the framework for subsequent drafts. As I’m writing a second or even a third draft, a character or scene that I hadn’t considered might take shape, or a plot twist or subplot might come to mind. It would be easy to reject these additions and keep to the outline, but I’ve learned to say yes to these creative sparks. Although it can take weeks to weave these new ideas into a near-completed draft, it’s always worth it because the end result is a better story.
I’m not sure I’ll ever achieve true balance in life or in my writing, but learning to say no to the time-wasters and yes to valuable ideas, people and experiences is a step in the right direction!
About the Book:
Explosive violence rocks Canada’s Slocan Valley after the shooting deaths of three teenagers in a bombing attempt at the Keenleyside dam. A joint U.S.-Canada military force locks down the Valley to protect Columbia River dams critical to both countries but martial law incites more violence.
Geologist Alex Graham refuses to let politics stand in her way. She evades military patrols to slip into a restricted zone in her hunt for a silver mine to claim as her own. But her plans are derailed by an intentionally set fire that almost takes her life.
Someone wants her out of the Slocan Valley.
When Alex discovers a gunshot victim in an abandoned mine, she fears she could be next. But she s never been one to wait for trouble to come to her and she tracks a suspicious man seen once too often in the lonely mountains.
All eyes are on the dams, but the true threat lies elsewhere.
About the Author:
With a love of the outdoors and a natural curiosity about the physical environment, geology was a natural fit for Katherine Prairie. Although she started her education as a mining geologist at Lakehead University, Katherine ultimately graduated from the University of Alberta and headed off to Calgary to work in petroleum geology.
She worked primarily on international oil and gas projects as a specialist in geological computer modeling, but her consulting practice included diverse clients such as Saks Fifth Avenue, British Columbia’s Parks and Protected Services and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. During these years, she also completed a M.Sc. in Chemical and Bio-Resource Engineering at the University of British Columbia, her studies focused on water management and environmental issues.
Katherine is an award-winning presenter and an enthusiastic teacher who has taught and designed numerous courses in both the private and public sector. She is the author of The Essential PROC SQL Handbook for SAS Users published by SAS Press in 2005.
She finally stepped away from the petroleum industry after twenty-five years to pursue her love of writing full-time. The result was her first novel, a mystery entitled Thirst. Learn more about Katherine here : www.katherineprairie.com