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Deep breath in. Smell the coffee. Relax those tense muscles. Transform from the businesswoman you’ve been all day to an author. Preferably in the next fifteen seconds. Right. (Sarcasm intended.)

Perhaps the greatest struggle of authoring is that simple switch: from the ordinary and not so ordinary of real life to the fabulous fiction of your other self. And it isn’t always so easy to open up the laptop, turn on the music, and hit the writing-ground running. This blog very often serves as the transition, this corner at Starbucks as the muse I never had, and the well-worn iTunes albums as the horn that pulled the Pevensies into Narnia.

Tomorrow marks the start of Camp NaNoWriMo. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t long to jump into their luscious descriptions of mountains and lakes. I like the camps in April and July far more than their better-known father: National Novel Writing Month. At camp, there is grace and friendship and inspiration aplenty. 50,000 words, phsaw. 10,000 becomes the very doable minimum. And writers are thrown into cabins to bond across the country. Not to mention the writing prompts already filling up my Facebook wall. The very idea of the camp sends my writing self scrambling to pack a virtual bag and head for the hallowed hills of authordom. The camp’s tagline:

“An idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”

Oh, me and my crazy life long to join the retreat! But free-writing just isn’t in the time frame. Editing The Lure of Lemons consumes me. Day and night, my mind is pulled deeper and deeper into the world and the stories. For now, that is exactly where my focus needs to be.

Yet real life still tugs at me–making me feel like I’m stumbling around my day on sleeping pills. The morning was spent getting some kind of test (there have been so many lately, I’ve quite honestly lost track of what one I had today) at the hospital, followed by breakfast with my mom, accounting and meetings, and more business. But now I’m here. At my beloved Starbucks, warmed by sales in the state of Washington, by bright and encouraging family, and a cherished letter from an even more cherished friend reflecting on the awesomeness of our friendship. Life may be trying to use me like the rope in tug-of-war, but I’m loving the journey.

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Last night, after work at the law firm, Starbucks became my home. I claimed a table in the corner, determined not to rise until the novel was finished. My coffee grew cold. Consciousness of time slipped away as I was transported to another world. I pushed away distractions: like the truly awful music coming over the speakers and the groups of students ‘studying’ around me. I rose long after darkness had set in, unaware that it was nearing nine pm.

The draft is complete.

There is something special about this phase, when the story is finally tangible, but my own special secret for a little while longer. And, of course, it helps that my fans are getting restless. Impatient comments are already filling up my Facebook wall, encouraging me to press deeper and deeper into the tale I am weaving.

I’m still terrified that this novel won’t shape up. It will require plenty of work to take my sweet, little ugly duckling and turn it into the jewel-clad swan it ought to be. With my epic, international trip merely fifty-seven days away, I have just that much time to finish solo-editing. Upon my return I’ll need to jump right into editing with my mother. (And if you are wondering why I edit with my mom, check out this post to catch up on all the fun we have.) Sure. It will require some hard labor to polish, but the good books usually do…

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