Another One In the Can

As of last night, the next Ali book, Credible Threat, is finished—more or less. That means that I’ve finished the writing part of the process and the editing job is just now getting underway. So while I hold my breath waiting for the editorial responses to come in, what am I going to do with all my “free” time? Write, I suppose. That’s what writers do.

Even though it’s Tuesday instead of Wednesday, I’m declaring that it’s time to write this week’s blog. This year I’ve put off all thought of the holidays until just now because I’ve been too preoccupied with Ali et al to pay much attention to what’s going on in the real world. This morning, I’ve made breakfast, taken a dog to the vet, read my on-line news, and played a few hands of solitaire. (I usually quit once I win.) It’s too cold and wet to go out to get steps right now, so I’ll probably download some of the books that are backed up in my Kindle library. (Bill has been reading along steadily. I have not.)

When I’m writing a book, I’m living with those characters. I think about them when I’m walking. I think about them when I’m in bed and not sleeping. And when they’re suddenly absent because a book is finished, it feels a lot like falling off a cliff. I sometimes think of it as a case of literary postpartum depression.

When people say I “crank books out,” it’s easy to be offended—if you happen to be the one being accused of cranking, that is. It makes the writing process sound like a production line, with pieces of the story spread out on a conveyer belt and popped in only as needed. Trust me, it’s not like that—at all. It’s more like that old Helen Reddy song, “Hasn’t It Been A Long Hard Climb.” Because it is—every single time.

Last week at that Women of Intrigue Conference, I sat in a roomful of people who want to do exactly what I do—write for a living. I wish them all Godspeed. For the past almost forty years, I’ve been able to live the life I always wanted to live—the life I dreamt about living from second grade on. How lucky is that? How wonderful is that? Yes, being a writer hard work at times, but it’s also the hard work I’ve chosen to do.

I also choose to write this blog. Every week or so, I receive e-mails from people wanting to supply “paid content” for my blog. In other words, they want to write something and have me pay them for posting it. Somehow that program just doesn’t do it for me. I write the blog to give my fans a window on my world and to let them know that the person writing the words in the books is, in fact, a person—a single solitary person—as opposed to a conglomeration of “co-writers.”

And so, for the guy who wrote to me a couple of weeks ago saying he hated my last book and who claimed I probably didn’t even write it myself, you’re wrong, buddy boy! I‘ve written every single word in every one of my book and have non-working finger prints as a result. Yes, when I went to get my CLEAR stamp at the airport, my fingerprint biometrics didn’t work. (Thankfully my eye biometrics still do!) And it’s no accident that I routinely wear the letters off the keys on my computer keyboards.

Just this past week, someone wrote to me wanting to offer me the opportunity of having paid advertising on my Facebook page. I wrote back saying that my facebook postings are for the convenience of my readers, something I have no interest in monetizing. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to read an online article and having the words covered over by an endless stream of multi-colored t-shirts or, even worse, ads for teeth implants. (For a survivor of childhood dental trauma, those are the worst!) So there will be no outside ads on my facebook page, and no ads on my website, either, thank you very much. I’m happy to have my blog continue be a little island of non-commercial entertainment.

Right this minute, it’s the calm before the holiday storm of pie-baking, guests coming and going, tree decorating, and all that goes along with all of those annual events. I’m sitting here taking a deep breath before diving into all of that, and I hope my readers take their own deep breaths, too. Celebrating the holidays is joyous, but, like writing, it can also be a whole lot of work.

And once the new year starts? It’ll be time to do it all over again.

But as for the rest of today, what’s my good friend Jack Reacher been up to?