How Long is the Writing Life?

How Long is the Writing Life?

As a fifty-(inaudible due to throat clearing)-year-old who’s recently completed the first draft of my manuscript, I do sometimes think (especially when reading about the latest 20- or 30-something best seller list debut author), “How many stories are in me? Will I be granted the time to write them all?”

Then again, who among even the fresh-faced youngsters getting multi-book deals and sweet advances is guaranteed a long life … or even a long writing life? The landscape is littered with literary one-hit wonders. Some really did die before they could publish another book. Some disliked the publicity and attention that came with their success and stepped away from the typewriter. Perhaps for others, it was the time and distance between published works that made the whole endeavor financially unsustainable. Some may have simply lost their writing mojo or descended into substance abuse, but for whatever reason were never heard from again.

What message can we take away from all this except that there are no guarantees in life anyway, so what the hell? You might as well keep writing.

So, do I have a single novel inside? A trilogy, perhaps? Or am I a late-blooming Sue Grafton champing at the bit?

The only answer, of course, is to keep writing the best that is in me. The Universe has its plan; so do I. Write. And write some more. Write as long as there are stories fighting to get out into the world. For they will be here long after I take my leave.

Besides, there are plenty of role models about whom the adage “It’s never too late!” was surely written. I’ll have what they’re having.


Taking Stock in the New Year

Taking Stock in the New Year

I had every intention of finishing my manuscript in 2015. After all, when I made the decision to dedicate myself to writing full-time, ten months still remained in the new year.

And yet here I sit, at the beginning of 2016, with a draft that is five, maybe six, chapters shy of being a completed story. The bones — and then some — are all there. The beginning has been polished to a fare-thee-well. The climactic scene, in one final twist of (what I hope is) shock and irony, is followed by a logical and satisfying denouement. Between the two lie twists and turns, subplots, clues, and red herrings. What’s missing are the last bits of connective tissue that will tie all that bone and flesh together into the recognizable shape that is a COMPLETED MANUSCRIPT.

Somewhere along the way I realized it. I should have (more…)

Meeting Hallie Ephron

Hallie Ephron Signed Book

My signed copy of Hallie Ephron’s “Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel”

What a fantastic weekend!

New England Crime Bake was, in a word, inspirational. The workshops, the instructors, the camaraderie … fantastic. And all that fretting about meeting Hallie Ephron? Pfft! Hallie was nothing short of friendly, down-to-earth, and incredibly helpful. I will forever be grateful to her.

Hallie’s critique of the first 15 pages of my book exceeded every expectation I might have had. I could immediately see how her thoughtful insights were going to positively impact the entire story. The time and effort she obviously put into her review completely blew me away. I mean, the woman is a teensy bit busy, what with her writing career, writing book reviews for the Boston Globe, teaching the craft of writing, attending book signings, participating in panel discussions and workshops with other authors, and on and on. And yet, with all that, she couldn’t have been any nicer or more accessible to this as-yet-unpublished writer.

Now that it’s all over, I suppose I can confess: (more…)

On the Eve of New England Crime Bake

New England Crime BakeHere I sit, on the eve of New England Crime Bake, only the second writers’ conference I will have attended in my brief tenure as a full-time writer. Or as a writer of any kind. And, frankly, I’m a little … unnerved.

I like to think of myself as a Fearless Writer of Mystery Fiction. And that I am. I will write beyond the self-erected walls within which I find my comfort zone. Where I write, there are guns and blood and sinister things of all kinds jumping out of dark, scary places. There are people my protagonist willingly engages that I would run fast and far away from, were I to encounter them even in daylight. I know I’m on the right track if my own heart rate speeds up while writing the scenes I mean to be nerve-wracking.

So why is it that the thought of having a famous author read and critique the first 15 pages of my work-in-progress positively freaks me out? (more…)