Monday, November 17, 2008

Book Promotion, Time Cubes, and Negotiations with the Wife

This past weekend, I engaged in a flurry of book promotion. As the Dec. 3 book signing at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch (see my November 13 post for details) is fast approaching, I shaped up my database of emails, typed up a quick letter and sent it out to everyone I know. So far, this area of becoming an author is my weakest area by far. I've been writing novels for twenty years. I've been uncovering the secrets of publishing for ten years. And I've been actively promoting myself for ten days.

But so far it's pretty fun. In this last few weeks, I've started this blog and discovered While facebook represents a huge potential time-sink (there are just so many interesting bells & whistles to dazzle me. And I am easily dazzled), it's amazing how many people I've connected with so quickly. And the blog has been a blast. It's a great way to warm up for writing on Wildmane.

As to Wildmane, I continue to churn out the rough draft. I've reached 68 pages so far, and the story is starting to cook. I am excited that my current system for writing is actually working. I had extreme doubts that it would. With kids, my job at the American Diabetes Association, fixing up our house, and social events with our wonderful group of friends, I had despaired that I would never find enough time to write.

Back in my twenties and early thirties, I'd disappear for a weekend, minimum, to do novel work. I could come home from my day job on Friday, get in the mood to write by watching a sci-fi movie, then go into my room and shut the door. I'd ignore the phone, ignore the knocks of my roommate, ignore the world. By mid-Saturday, I'd be writing, making progress. By Sunday morning, I'd be flying along, writing chapters and chapters. Add a third day to that, and I could damn near write a hundred pages of a novel in a weekend.

That was my late twenties. Now I'm in my late thirties, with a family, and here's the inevitable dilemma: I never get a two day block of time anymore. I don't even get a one-day block of time anymore. All of my free hours are diced up into little time cubes. Snippets of freedom in a packed schedule.

In the beginning, oh, how I would fight against it, craving that mythical three-day weekend I used to know, that open expanse of time to write and only write. Lara, my wife, was very patient at first, doing her best to afford me what I felt I needed. But as the pressure of parenthood increased on both of us, my selfish time stealing didn't fit. That time simply wasn't there.

I didn't want to believe it, refused to accept it, because losing that time equated to losing my dreams of becoming a writer, and that just wasn't acceptable. Lara and I would have endless discussions (and sometimes fights) about how to work it out.

In the end, I knew I was the one who had to bend, because all of those things that packed my schedule (like my children, my friends, improving my family's quality of life) were of my own choosing. They were not going to disappear. The diced-time situation was not going to change. So either I had to adapt, or my novel-writing would become extinct.

So I decided to buckle down and change my point of view. I couldn't have half of Friday, all of Saturday and all of Sunday. I had to fit my passion into diced time-cubes. In negotiations with Lara, we decided that while the whole weekend couldn't work, two week nights were reasonable. At first, it seemed pitifully inadequate. It was only a scant eight actual writing hours in comparison to the bountiful 38 of a full weekend. I had no idea how I would do it.

But, Monday and Tuesday night were mine. Inviolate. No discussions about time juggling. No responsibilities to intrude on my selfishness. I could banish the guilt, closet myself in my office, drink Coke and eat Pringles if I want to. And if someone trespassed, I had full rights to be the snarling ogre.

For those of you who struggle with finding your writing time, I have this to say: Hour for hour, I am more productive than I have ever been. It's unbelievable. I sit down, I force myself to write, and if it comes out crap, it comes out crap. But at least I am WRITING.

And the kicker is this: Less of it is crap than ever before.

Go figure.

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