I often come steaming home from a long day in court, still railing at the sheer buffoonery of opposing counsel (never my own buffoonery, of course) hours after the bailiff has given the last, “All rise!” I’m buffing my closing arguments yet again, honing cross examinations long completed, and generally making that mental hamster wheel whiz around at warp speed while going exactly nowhere.
This is not good. It is not healthy or wise, but I do not own a TV nor do I subscribe to a newspaper, so how, I ask you, am I to unplug from the day job?
I have a few secret weapons, one in particular has been of much comfort lately. Loretta Chase is one of my all time, desert island, no-lend keeper authors. “Not Quite A Lady” is on that list of books I wish I’d written, and oh, I could gush about her work.
Instead I will gush about her blog, or the blog she shares with historical author Susan Holloway Scott, Two Nerdy History Girls. At frequent intervals, the authors post tidbits on history, or from history. Go browse, and you’ll see a diversity of topics, some frivolous, some fashionable, but each one tweaking the curiosity of any self-respecting historical fiction writer.
Below the posts is a list of blogs the authors follow, and here is another treasure trove. As I read about Hortense Mancini (Hoydens and Firebrands), or 18th Century Stays, that courtroom becomes a distant memory. The cases I lugged home with me slip away, and the Christmas trees that Prince Albert had hung from the ceiling of Windsor Castle begin to dance in my head.
I am an “organic” writer, that is, I don’t work from a detailed outline, I write my books scene by scene in a process of discovery, from which a draft emerges. This is scary business because What If I Can’t Think of Anything Interesting? Though I have thirty completed manuscripts to my name, that fear is as real to me as the court cases I deal with every day.
The benefit of spending time on sites like Two Nerdy History Girls is that not only does the material there help me dis-engage from a world of litigation and family law, it also helps fertilize my creative process, so that when I get up in the morning—before I go back to the office—I’ll have some bright ideas that might germinate into worthy books, or at least worthy, vivid details in the scenes of my books.
And then, when I’ve nibbled and noshed on inspiration and education such as to be found on sites likes this, I can spend the shank of evening reading good novels, or—when I’m particularly desperate for inspiration—well written works of historical reference.
Now you know how I spend my weekday evenings, how I change gears, and even a little bit about where I get my ideas (like for this week’s Word Corner).
What are some of the ways you enrich your life when the telly’s turned off?