Sunday, December 4, 2011

Carey Jane Clark author of the soon to be released "After The Snow Falls" Guest Post

What Keeps You Up at Night?

People who know me well know that my sleep schedule is, well, somewhat unorthodox. In theory, I know that the body needs its eight hours, and I have the best of intentions when it comes to sleep. I know that I'm at my best for the tasks on my to-do list when my head hits the pillow no later than 10:00 p.m.

But it's after midnight now, and I'm still awake. Tonight, it's no mystery what's keeping me up. I'm writing this blog post. And it's writing that often keeps me up: writing fiction, writing blog posts, thinking about writing blog posts, or doing what inspires them: homeschooling or learning Mandarin, or reading the latest just-can't-put-it-down novel. It's those things that don't make it to the to-do list that are often the source of my late-night (or early morning) alertness.

I suppose it's passion that keeps me up. The obsession with the life of one of my characters--a problem he or she just has to work through or the struggle to capture in words the perfect turn of phrase to capture the emotion of a scene. Or explaining the joy of one of my children in an "aha" moment we shared in our homeschool day.

Passion is a funny thing. A slippery thing. I remember as a young person being advised to find my passion when deciding on my career. The hardest question I had at that time was which passion? I found it hard to narrow it down. Even now, the author bio takes more work for me than the thousands of words in a novel. I am a homeschool mother and writer who happens to live in China (returning in February). How does one say that succinctly? Those elements don't even seem to go together. And yet, somehow, they do.

Maybe I needed to be wired this way to be fascinated by the details of research that go into writing a novel. For After the Snow Falls I needed to learn what a trucker looks for when buying a second-hand truck, where alternative medicine clinics are most often located and what kinds of treatments they offer, how a tracheostomy tube is cared for, details about the tourist sites along Route 66 (actually, this doubled as research for a vacation for my husband and I--one we haven't taken yet because we ended up in China, instead).

The same fascination with life and all its details serves me well as I homeschool my children. In a single week, I might be called upon to know about what happened in 17th century Japan, the names of the parts of a plant, how to identify trees in winter, how to teach the multiplication facts in a way that "sticks," and how to diagram a sentence.

So what keeps you up at night? What's your passion?

Carey Jane Clark is a Sinophile and homeschool mother by day, writer by night. Her first novel, After the Snow Falls, will be released December 15 by Trestle Press

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