Thursday, January 18, 2007

It’s done -- sort of, more or less...

What’s done, sort of, more or less? you wonder. The Dells, that’s what, the next Joe Shoe book. And if you have to ask, “Who’s Joe Shoe?”, you’re reading the wrong blog. Or the wrong blogger, at least. Shoe goes home to Toronto to visit his family only to get dragged into a murder with connections that go back thirty-five years to series of rapes and a homicide that occurred in the woods behind his parents’ house.

What do I mean by “sort of, more or less”? Well, if you’re a writer, you know how it goes. A book or a story is never ever really finished, until it’s in print, anyway, by which time it’s too late to fix that bit of description or dialog that makes you cringe whenever you read it. “Oh, god, did I write that?” As I write, the MS is in the hands of some people I trust not to spare my feelings when it comes to pointing out the clangers and mercilessly deleting redundant superfluities. Maybe then it will be ready to send to my editor.

In the meantime, I got down to work on the third Tom McCall/Granville Island book, Depth of Field. I’d written a 60,000 word draft a while back, between drafts of The Dells, but had lots of notes about things I wanted to change. On reading the draft, though, I thought, “Hm, not bad. Don’t have to change as much as I thought.” And I got down to it.

Then real life intruded. My day job came back. My day job had temporarily abandoned me in mid 2006. Fortunately, it had abandoned me after I’d make a nice pile of change, so I was able to spend the rest of the year working on The Dells.

It’s not that my day job sucks. It doesn’t. Mainly I develop technical training for the railroad and railroad-related things, such as on-track crane operation and the transportation of hazardous goods. It’s interesting, more often than not. And it pays pretty well. Problem is, I freelance and it’s hard to shift gears between freelance technical writing and creative writing, especially when the technical writing pays so much better.

Between 1984 and 1994 I had a real day job with Canadian National Railways. Up at seven, in the office by eight, out at four-thirty, home by five. Weekends off. Steady income. Paid vacations. Chance to travel. And I was writing. Technical specs and manuals, speeches and presentations, annual departmental reports, R&D papers, and more. Terrific discipline and invaluable experience.

The regular hours also made it easy to switch gears on my way home -- I pretty much walked to and from work for most of those ten years -- allowing me to get back into fiction writing, which I’d pretty much abandoned in the mid seventies. I was more or less single for a good part of that time, too, which helped, although I’m not sure “help” is quite the right word.

I went back to freelancing in 1994, with a nice severance package that gave me the freedom to write for a year. That same year I met Pamela. All in all, returning to freelancing and meeting Pam were both good things. Meeting Pam was an especially good thing, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that If Looks Could Kill, my first (published) mystery, might not have been published but for her. She convinced me to submit the MS to the inaugural Chapters/Robertson Davies contest in 1999; it was a finalist and subsequently published by McClelland & Stewart in 2001.

Generally speaking, the (creative) writing life is a good one. If only it paid better ... financially, anyway.

That's it for now. Keep warm, everyone.

8 comments:

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Rick Blechta said...

Hey, Blair, how come YOU get the ads for Hot Girls and sex cams? I only get insurance offers and junk like that.

There just ain't no justice anymore!

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