The Art of the Deal

BEING A WRITER, and a narcissist, it feels like long past time for me to begin a blog. I write genre fiction–murder mysteries mostly (hence the blog name) and also romances, thrillers, that kind of thing.   Those of you who know me well know that I had a contract with Bantam Books a number of years ago, which was the victim of a corporate merger and the consequential cutting back on their stable of new writers. I allowed that set-back to derail me. Clearly, (in addition to being a narcissist) I’m easily discouraged.

So now I’m several months into a leap of faith: I’m taking a year off to write some new things, get a new literary agent, and see if I can get into print. The blog will be some random thoughts on how I write, what I write and (the nature of creativity being what it is) how I don’t write.  Fair warning: this won’t be the useful kind of blog which links you to all sorts of other helpful blogs. It will be mostly a way for me to chronicle my writing life and, if I’m lucky enough to have anyone else read it, to share some of my journey with you.


Monday, May 6, 2013

I FEEL AS IF I PAY for every productive day with at least two days of wandering around the house lamenting that I’m not writing.  I envy writers who say they write for (add number here) hours a day, or until they’ve written (add number here) words in a day.  I make deals like that with myself all the time.  The trouble is, I’m not trustworthy; I renege on the agreement before the ink on the contract is dry.

A usual day for me begins with a brief work-out; that’s one deal I’m trying to keep.

My mantra is EEDD:

On days when I feel like exercising the initials stand for: Exercise Every Delightful Day

On days when I don’t feel like exercising, they stand for: Exercise Every Damn Day

I drink my breakfast, not in the old-time private eye tradition with a shot of rye, but in the New Age California tradition of kale, apple, strawberries, blueberries and anything else I can find in the fridge whipped up in the blender into a sort of smoothie that’s really closer to a sludgie, but which usually tastes great.

I feed and walk Picasso. On days when he’s feeling a bit frail this might be a turn about the garden. On days when he’s feeling up to it, we take a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood.

When we come back I have a cup of tea and a biscuit and then I have a choice: Laptop or Kindle?

When I choose the Kindle, the day is pretty much over since I often only come out of my reading coma in time for Picasso’s early evening walk.

If I choose the laptop I check my e-mail, then open FaceBook and fool around there for twenty minutes, then I check my e-mail again, delete the junk and write responses to anyone who needs an answer.

I leave the laptop turned on, as a sort of pledge that I’ll return, and go and get another cup of tea.  When I come back I check in on Face Book again. Usually something catches my eye or piques my interest and I wander around on strange Face Book pages for a while, enjoying the sense of learning something new even when the something new is just funny photos of moose up to their knees in snow in Saskatchewan.

When I’ve had my fill of moose photos and I really can’t postpone it any longer, I open one of the three novels I’m currently working on.  On a good day, this is the beginning of four or five hours of productive work. On a not-so-good day I don’t write anything new; I polish and re-write the passages I’ve already written. This is where my genius lies: I can actually postpone writing by writing.  It’s really incredibly clever.  I work at my laptop, my fingers are flying over the keyboard and anyone watching me (not that anyone is) would assume that I’m being as productive as all get-out. But they would be wrong. I know the difference.

There is a time and a place for re-writing and polishing of course.  That time is when the main body of the work is done. But I can polish and polish until the original is completely worn away.

Sometimes my ability to procrastinate amazes even me.

Time to make a new deal: No more polishing for at least another 5,000 words.

I’ll let you know how it works out.