Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why I Do What I Do - A Guest Post by Author Karen White

I had the privilege of reading and reviewing two books by Karen White, The House on Tradd Street last year and her most recent, The Girl on Legare Street, just last week. Both novels are rich in setting and characters; And on top of that, Karen knows how to spin an entertaining ghost story! I am excited to have her here with us today. Please join me in welcoming author Karen White to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

Recently I was riding in my car (blissfully and unexpectedly alone—except for my dog) and I heard an old Rod Stewart song. I’m not certain of the title but the lyrics go something like ‘I wish I knew what I know now when I was younger.’ Well, ain’t that the truth?

I’ve been married for twenty-two years to the same great guy (who travels an awful lot on business) and have two teenage children (I know, I know, and I appreciate your sympathies): a boy who’s about to turn sixteen and a daughter who will be eighteen in March. I am also the author of eleven published novels, with numbers twelve and thirteen being published in 2010 and book number fourteen due on my editor’s desk August 1st. This makes my life blessedly full, overly busy, too complicated, and way more demanding than I ever bargained for when I was a twenty-something and wanting it all.

So why do I do this to myself? This very question was asked by an old friend of mine recently and I had to think for a while before I could answer. It’s not because it was so hard to find an answer, it was just because it was so obvious that I kept trying to find a more complicated one. In a nutshell, I do what I do because being a writer isn’t what I do, it’s who I am. Although staring at a blank computer screen with a deadline hammering away at my brain while simultaneously trying to judiciously edit college application essays, negotiate X-box play time and stock the kitchen pantry is something akin to sliding down a razor blade and landing in alcohol, I am compelled to write because it’s how I’m wired. Creating characters and their stories, and then sharing them with readers, is what puts the wind in my sails.

Which brings me back to that Rod Stewart song: if I had known back before I started writing books how hard it would be, how exhausting, how many sacrifices in my personal life I’d have to make, would I still be doing this? Yep, I would. I mean, what sort of example would I be to my children if I didn’t follow my dream just because I had to work too hard? It reminds me of that Wayne Gretzky quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Yes, life could be easier; but it certainly wouldn’t be better.

I guess I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining this to my inquisitive friend because her next question was something along the lines of how my children handled sharing me with my writing. Granted my kids aren’t overly familiar with home-cooked meals and have had to make do with me attending only 90% of all their athletic events, but they’ve seen firsthand what it’s like to pursue a dream; to set goals; to press on in the face of little failures; and to get back in the saddle after major spills. I think that’s a fair trade-off for a childhood of frozen whole wheat waffles for breakfast.

So, here I am. It’s a Friday morning in December and I just finished book #12 (ON FOLLY BEACH--May, 2010) and I find myself throw into the middle of making Christmas happen for my family. Not to be a Scrooge, but I’d like to postpone the holidays this year because I’m simply exhausted from my deadline. Everything’s half-done: Christmas decorations, Christmas letter, Christmas baking, Christmas shopping--NOTHING’s done. And starting in January, I have to start on the book due August 1st and I need some brain-cell regenerating time.

No, I’m not canceling Christmas. What almost kills us makes us stronger, right? But I’m not going to be a martyr. I’ve already started putting Christmas decorations back in the basement without putting them out (nobody will notice but me!) and I’m having Christmas dinner catered. And there’s that wonderful thing called online shopping that’s become my closest friend. I can do this. Really.

My life right now is a mixed bag of expectations, responsibilities, coming up short, and sometimes even successfully accomplishing my myriad tasks. Yes, I’m exhausted. But I think that just means that I need to go take a nap.

* * *
Karen White is the author of eleven published novels with more on the way. Her most recent novel is The Girl on Legare Street, the second in a paranormal/mystery series featuring Melanie and Jack. You can learn more about the author and her books by visiting her website.


  1. Thanks for the guest post, Wendy!
    It's definitely not easy being an author, with the deadlines and all.

    Karen: I enjoy reading your books! Please keep them coming! :)

  2. I absolutely love her guest posts. Each one is totally unique and very down-to-earth. Even though she has described her life in various posts, I'm still not totally sure how she pulls it all off. I know at some point I will need to order her last two books.

  3. What a great guest post! While I have had House on Tradd Street on my TBR shelves for several months, reading this honest, heart-warming post makes me want to put the book at the top of the list. I LOVE that she chooses to be a role model for her children about the importance of always following your dreams. And....I am astounded that she will write an entire novel in only 8 months. WOW!!

  4. Wonderful guest post. I imagine Karen's children are very proud of her and her work.

  5. Karen always writes the best guest posts. I always love getting one from her because they are always so well done. I certainly can't wait for her next novels!

  6. Melody - I imagine it is quite a challenge being an author often times.

    Sandy - I love Karen's guest posts too! She does sound down to earth, I agree.

    Molly - I think it's wonderful that she tries to be such a good role model for her children, as well.

    Karen (Scobberlotcher) - It is, isn't it? I really enjoyed reading it too.

    Kathy - I know I would be if I were her children. She juggles so much and has such a great attitude about it all.

    Dar - I agree! I am glad she was able to prepare one for us today.

  7. I have Tradd Street on my nightstand. I'm looking forward to starting it (haven't quite gotten there yet -- have to finish another book first.)


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