writing life


The book has launched, and I’ve already made a bit of a profit, based on the actual cost of publication. I don’t want to think about what I’ve earned per hour for the work I put into it. That way lies madness and submitting an application at McDonald’s. I have to remind myself that one of the points of publishing for myself is that I can play the long game instead of being like the big publishers that expect instant results. Big thanks to those who’ve bought a copy already. I really hope you enjoy it.

I started writing book 3 in this series this week, and I’m really having fun with it. I’m trying to be creative about the kinds of crimes that need to be investigated. They won’t all be murders because I’m trying to avoid having a small town whose murder rate rivals that of most big cities. The mystery in book 2 involves theft. The case in book 3 is based on something that actually happened in the city where I live. I saved a copy of a news article about it because I thought it might make a good basis for a mystery novel someday, and I think it’s the kind of thing that might happen in a town like the one in the books.

I have to say, it feels good to get back to writing. I feel like I’ve spent the past couple of months doing editing, proofreading, formatting, and administrative work, and having all the business stuff done is a huge weight off my shoulders. Now I just get to sit around and make things up all day.

One thing I’m looking forward to is having an actual weekend. For the past month or so, I’ve either been working through the weekend or I’ve been recovering from a vaccination. When I’m editing and proofreading, I try not to take days off, even if I just do a little bit of work, because I want the book to stay fresh in my head. I need to remember that I used that phrase in the previous chapter or that I’ve already used that joke. There’s a tendency when revising to think of the perfect thing to say and to stick it in — without realizing that you already said it elsewhere in the book in a previous draft. So I’ve been working during weekends, and when I’ve had a free weekend, I’ve had a shingles shot and then a flu shot, so I spent the weekend feeling bad and resting.

I do try to take weekends off, otherwise. I hear people saying you have to write every day to be a “real” writer, and I think “Oh, no, bad idea.” You need rest to recharge, and that’s even more important when you work at home, where it’s easy to fall into a routine in which all days are the same. I make a point of making an occasion out of weekends. Friday night is movie or TV night. I make a fun dinner and then watch something. Saturday is for a leisurely breakfast, a pot of tea, and the Saturday crossword puzzle before I play the housework game. I wash my bed linens, and I try to do as much housework as possible while the laundry is going. Once the sheets are out of the dryer and back on the bed, I get to take the rest of the day off. I’m trying to be better about doing things rather than goofing off online. I may work with my plants, read, bake, or practice music. Saturday night is either another movie night or a reading night, depending on how I feel, what book I have, and what the classical radio station is playing.

I get in bed relatively early on Saturday night because a radio program I like starts at 10. It’s a show about musical theater, and I like to lie in bed and listen to it. It usually covers some kind of theme and will play songs that fit that theme or songs from musicals that cover the theme. I have fun playing “name that singer” and figuring out which cast recording they’re using. One thing I find interesting is how many of the TV stars of the 1970s got their start in musicals. There were some I knew about, like Hal Linden from Barney Miller and Linda Lavin from Alice, but there were a lot of others. Like, I didn’t know Alan Alda from M*A*S*H had done musical theater, but he had a fantastic voice. Also from M*A*S*H, Gary Burghoff, Radar, was the original Charlie Brown from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. A lot of guest and supporting cast members from sitcoms had been pretty big on Broadway. I keep having to pull up IMDB on my tablet to look up familiar names.

I try to keep Sunday as a quiet day. There’s church (online for now), the Sunday newspaper and crossword puzzles, and a lot of reading. That’s usually a PBS night on TV, if there’s something good on Masterpiece Theatre. If not, there’s a choral music show and an early music show on the radio.

It’s not an exciting weekend, but I try to make it feel different from a weekday. That helps me keep the days straight and gives my brain a break. Then I actually feel somewhat energized and ready to go on Monday.

I’ll have a lot of housework to catch up on this weekend after either not feeling well or having other work to do for the past four or so weekends. But I think there will also be some celebrating getting the book out. It’s easy to get so caught up in the work that I forget to celebrate the victories.

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