Part of me wants to play this cool and be all, “Yeah, it’s cool, you can pre-order my book” and the rest of me — the real me — has an almost-insurmountable compulsion to run around the house screaming “My book! MY BOOK!”
So severely conflicted on this am I that it took me 19 full days to write this post, which has to be some sort of record for something, even if it’s a record for how batshit crazy things get inside my head.
Forget all that. The post has arrived, as has the book. It feels as though I’ve lived a lifetime since I first had the idea, which I suppose happens to many writers, unless, of course, you happen to be James Patterson, because that man is a machine. And if you are James Patterson, hi. Buy my book, OK?
Technically, the book has not arrived: You can pre-order it now on Amazon (or from the University Press of Florida) and they’ll ship it to you on October 4, the actual release date. Also, if you want it as an ebook, you have to wait — I mean, not much longer, but apparently the something about metadata or other things I don’t understand and don’t you dare pretend you do, either. The takeaway? You will have the chance to buy the ebook and no, I don’t know when but soon.
When UPF offered me a book contract, my editor told me in no uncertain terms to never promise people a publication date (well, until the Press itself released one) so I would make jokes when people asked me. My favorite one?
“Well, I’m not certain but I’m hoping sometime before we elect a new president.”
I made it with a whole month to spare.
… all you do is open your veins and let them bleed on the page.
Curious thing about writing. I do it every day, for a living, and have done for the past ten-plus years. But what I’m doing this month, writing for money I will not see for at least a year, is different, because I’m finding it takes more discipline than the shorter articles and smaller projects I do every day.
What’s also odd is that I’m finding the need to write before I write. There’s a great quote from Lord Byron: “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” More and more this week, I’m finding that to be true. I have a lot of stuff floating around in my brain, and I find I need to clear out the cobwebs to make any sense at all. That’s what this is, and my apologies for that, but no one’s making you read.
This week is not without challenges. El Cap’s parents are staying with us, perhaps temporarily, perhaps not. They are not hard people to have around, but it takes some getting used to having other people around during the day, to say the least. I talk to myself a lot, which is fine when it’s me and Calypso. It’s just something I do, usually when I get up to stretch or get tea, which involves me walking out of my study (which I call my Bat Cave) and into the kitchen. Calypso usually comes with me because the clever dog knows there’s a good chance there will be cheese.
When you add two other people into the mix, one of whom doesn’t hear well anyway, it gets weird, because they think I’m talking to them when, in reality, I’m really just making words bump together to get my mind working, or talking to the dog to prove that I still have the power of speech. Also, Calypso doesn’t judge me when I talk to her. I can tell her anything. It’s an adjustment not to tell her I need to shave my bikini line or that my butt itches when I go get my tea, because I feel as though the El Cap v.1 and his lovely wife really don’t need to hear about those sorts of things. What’s more, they probably (OK, definitely) don’t want to hear those things.
Nevertheless, I’ve got a nice little routine going. Write things like this, get some tea, and get down to it. In between, I keep having these thoughts that I could very easily adjust to this lifestyle. I mean, aside from the lack of income at the present. So, you know, if anyone wants to just hand me money to do this, you know where to find me.
I’m on the first official day of leave from my regular gig at the Gabber Newspaper, and I’m supposed to be working. I’ve set my work e-mail to auto-respond and I’ve started ignoring phone calls. It’s also two days before the start of National Novel Writing Month, which should dovetail nicely with my plans to finish my manuscript and get it to my editor so I can get on with my career as a writer.
So far I’ve been on Facebook – just to check – and priced healthcare. I’ve also done a small workout, ran the dishwasher, and finished the laundry. Oh, and I’ve made a grocery list and returned a bunch of calls.
But as soon as I walk the dog, pick up my paycheck, and get to the store, I am totally going to do this thing. And I’m going to make myself blog about it on the regular so I’ll be staring down not only an angry, unrevised page but the collective force of all your derision on top of my own shame and humiliation should I fail. Which I won’t. I’m starting now. Honest.
Just let me walk the dog, OK?
“So let me get this straight,” my mom says “You’re paying to go away for a weekend and do the same thing you could do here… for free.”
“Right, except I won’t,” I say.
And I won’t. I write for a living, but when it comes to writing for me, for fun, for the love of writing – you know, all the reasons someone chooses “writer” as a profession – I don’t do it.
Let’s back up. My mom’s referring to a “camp in” writing weekend at Lake Louisa State Park. It’s a three day weekend spent in the company of other writers who, like me, hope to pen 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30 as part of National Novel Writing Month (affectionately called “NaNoWriMo” by participants). The cabins have no television, no Internet access, and some of the crappiest cell signals in the organized western world.
It’s perfect. It’s three days out of thirty, but it’s a great little respite from everyday life and a wonderful way to kickstart what NaNoWriMo bills “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon.”
Now, I get my mom’s logic – I write for a living, largely from the comfort of my own home. Indeed, although it’s just past 11 a.m. on a Thursday morning, I’m writing this from my couch. I’m still in my jammies, and Calypso the WonderHound snores next to me. Sounds perfect, right? I should be able to write a novel right here, saving myself $95.
Well, except I started writing this three hours ago and was constantly interrupted by Facebook, Pinterest, e-mail, work, and a host of other things my brain deemed more important than writing a silly little blog entry. A novel? Forget it. No WAY am I going to be able to do that as easily as I’m almost not writing this blog entry.
Follow my logic here: it’s because I write for a living that I don’t write. I’m lucky in that I eke out a living by writing; I am unlucky that, because of this, I feel horribly guilty whenever I sit down to write something not knowing if it will ever yield a paycheck. My brain – and by “my brain” I mean the voices in my head – starts to tell me I should be writing something that will make me some money, or that, at the very least, I should maybe tackle things like cleaning or paying bills instead of frittering away my life on blog entries and novels that may never see the light of day. (Those voices, I’d like to note, have no such problem with me being on Facebook. I didn’t say the voices used the best logic…)
Enter NaNoWriMo. For one month every year, I give myself permission to write a novel with no end game in mind other than writing for myself. It’s a guilty pleasure and it’s wonderfully liberating. I do as little as possible with any other writing, and for that one month, I feel the rush of stringing together words just because I like the way they sound when they clink together, like two wine glasses toasting at sunset. And, like that last sentence, I don’t worry about how dumb what I write sounds: I’m just writing for the love of writing.
That’s something I don’t get to do every day, or even most days, professionally. However, taking this one month out of the rest of the year recharges me for the minutiae of covering city council meetings, writing pet obituaries, and photographing countless community events.
That’s why, the first weekend in November, I will gladly pay the $95 to deprive myself of my better half, my canine companion, the Internet, and television. Because that weekend – and the entire month of November – gives me back a love of writing and that, my friends, is priceless.