Sunday, August 05, 2007

So when’s the next book coming out?

by Michael Dymmoch

When I quit my day job, I thought writing a novel a year would be a breeze. After all, in thirteen years I’d written eight books, two screenplays, and a dozen short stories while working a forty hour week, raising a kid, and managing a house in the suburbs.

HAH!

I’m lucky to have a huge family, so some of my new “writing time” vanishes when my sisters (who live in Colorado and Georgia) call to ask, “Are you up for a visit?” or my son says, “How ‘bout hitting Lou’s for a pizza?” or my niece decides to get married—you get the idea. And I rarely turn down a friend who wants to "do lunch" or meet for dinner.

Somehow my two-bedroom condo (single parking space, closet-sized storage) takes more time to maintain than did my three bedroom house (with garage, garden and shed). Recycling in the suburbs took ten minutes a week—just drop it in the bin, put the bin out on recycling day. Here in the city, recycling takes dedication (unless you believe that moonshine about the Blue Bag program). We have a designated recycling dumpster in my building, but volunteers have to remove the garbage that illiterates throw in. (Guess who volunteers?) And clothing, books, and tech trash have to be delivered to other locations.

Other tasks that seem trivial soak up hours—cleaning the junk out of your spam filter, for instance, answering e-mails, looking up facts. The internet makes it faster. And slower, since there are more avenues down which to get side-tracked.

Distractions in Chicago are myriad. Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise” at the Art Institute, “Darwin” at the Field, free music and movies in Grant Park, and fairs and festivals all over the city, all summer long. Even just going downtown for a vehicle sticker can lure you into sight-seeing or people watching. It’s research. Right?

Since I retired, I’ve managed to join two more writer’s group, which requires that I do more writing, though not novels. One of the groups does screenplays; I get help with my scripts, but I have to reciprocate. Watching a movie takes two hours, covering the script for a two-hour movie a day.

Reading a MS for a friend is usually a treat. But for a compulsive editor like myself, it means twice as many hours as just reading a copy-edited, published work. You can’t fairly put “This isn’t working for me,” in the margin without at least suggesting why. And you don’t want to say “the Berwyn El stop isn’t in Roger’s Park” unless you’ve checked the Roger’s Park boundaries.

I have a book coming out in April (MIA, St Martin’s Press, ISBN 10: 0-312-37371-6). It’s done, right? St. Martin’s sent the check. But there’s the copy-edit to deal with. (God bless those nameless wonders who know that Nike’s weren’t available in 1968.) And soon I’ll have to plug the book. Publicity involves going to mystery conferences and conventions (four, so far this year, two more scheduled). They’re fun, but time consuming. So are book signings. And library appearances.

Since I write police procedurals, I couldn’t pass up the Sisters in Crime Forensic University program in St Louis this November, including the side trip to the gun range. And I just discovered there’s a symposium on criminal history record checks being offered in Springfield in September. And tomorrow, there’s an interesting murder trial at 26th and Cal...


Speaking of plugging... Come meet the Outfit

Tuesday, August 7,
6:00 p.m.

at the HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY
Cindy Pritzker Auditorium (lower level)
400 S. State Street, Chicago

We’ll have door prizes, and a book signing after the program.

21 comments:

Barbara D'Amato said...

As they used to say in Mad Magazine--Hoo Boy!

You got that right. More time available doesn't equal more writing done. Does anyone know why? It must be related to the other mystery: Why is it when you have more space it gets more cluttered?

Sara Paretsky said...

yes, it's really hard to walk away from demands on one's time. I wonder if it's harder for women?

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