A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Our Lives Between Books Can Become a Lot More

'One hates an author that's all author...' 
--Lord  Byron

Some actors we admire most pick their projects carefully, taking time between them to recharge, brood at leisure and prepare for their next  role. Two names that quickly come to mind:

Daniel Day-Lewis: just fourteen films since The Unbearable Lightness of Being in 1986.
Daniel Craig: A three-year break between Skyfall in 2012 and Bond 24 in 2015.

And, possibly not strangely, when each of these men is on screen we sense the hidden magic of a life apart from celluloid or any particular role. They live for their art, we are certain of that--but they also seem fully committed to working the art of their lives. Compare almost any film by either of these men with the desperate earnestness of some leading actors who churn out many more films...as if they'll die the instant the camera isn't on them. Dustin Hoffman, anyone? About 4 dozen films since 1969.

There are telling parallels, I'm sure, with musicians who crank out an album a year and those who prefer to let their next album grow. (Paul McCartney vs. Leonard Cohen?) Let's segue for today, though, to writers--in particular to a remark one critic made about Byron: how the most compelling about him is our powerful sense of real life off the page. That's sometimes revealed in off-handed remarks about his love and sporting life. But more often this truth is something that we sense. And when we learn more about Byron we know: no man who hadn't 'wasted' time swimming the Hellespont...boxing...fencing...traveling...seducing the gladly seduced by the scores...could have written a line of Don Juan. The work's cut from the very same cloth of his life.

My own output on Amazon is somewhat sizable only because I had the 'advantage' of 25 years in The Desert, in which time I finished a dozen-odd books. By revising these, using the skills I've learned since, and by adding two new books I've written, I'll have managed to put out eight ebooks since the summer of 2012.

The eighth book, called Red Champagne, was originally written in 1998-1999. So it had a long gestation before the big rewrite this year. And when it's finished--by December-I plan to take a few months before starting work on the next Boss MacTavin mystery. I expect that to take from 9 months to a year. Luckily, as I've said, I still have a backlog to draw from, including three more horror novels penned as Kelley Wilde.

But the fact remains: I'm a slow writer by most standards. I have good friends and colleagues who can finish books in the time it takes me to do a second draft. One best-selling ebook writer has written more books in a couple of years than I could begin to catch up with. I've never written--and I won't--for eighteen hours a day. Why?

I need to live between the lines to write the lines I do write...the sort of lines I like to read. And to my way of thinking I don't waste my time when I work on one of my three blogs...work out in Gold's Gym...network on Twitter and Facebook...brood while I'm working my new city's streets...study Latin...keeping my studio clean...

And how do your own lives fit into your plans? Are you working when, to others, you seem to do nothing at all? Are your life and work cut from the same lovely cloth?

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