Friday, May 21, 2010

Time to Write?

As I write this, I am preparing for an eight-hour drive south and west from New England to the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a Saturday morning event at the Mystery Lovers’ Bookshop at Oakmont.

It is seven weeks now since I left home to embark on what has been a gruelling, if rewarding, two-month tour of the US to promote three books which came out at the start of the year.

Anyone who has been reading my blog will have followed me through the ups and downs, highs and lows, laughs and miseries of the last seven weeks. I am hardly daring to believe that I am so close to the end of it - not least because there are several bookstore and library events remaining that deserve my full concentration.

On the way I have researched and developed an idea for the second book in my new trilogy, which kicks off with “The Blackhouse” next January. I have embarked on the writing of a screenplay for the third of my China Thrillers, commissioned by the French film producers who have bought the film rights.

I have written upwards of twenty posts for my personal blog, and I think this might be the eighth for TM4M.

My latest EnzoFiles episode, “Freeze Frame”, was given a great review in the New York Times, and I have just received news by email that the French translation of “The Blackhouse” has been shortlisted for the Readers’ Prize at a prestigious festival of crime novels at Avignon, which I will be attending in October in the south of France.

A week from today I will fly back to Paris and get the train south to my home in the Lot. Back to work, you might think. But no such luck.

Throughout most of June I will be promoting my book around France, followed by a research trip to Scotland, another book festival on Corsica at the beginning of July, then another research trip - this time to Hong Kong, for the movie.

By the time I get through with all that I won’t actually have written a single word of my next book for more than six months - a book which is due for delivery before the end of the year.

More and more it seems that the demands of promotion reduce the time available for a writer to actually write. That’s how I make my living, after all, and that’s what it is I enjoy doing best. But making a living at it means you also have to sell. And to sell you have to promote.

I would like nothing better than to lock myself away in my study and devote the next year to writing. But I know it won’t happen. And I’ll tell you what I fear the most - that my life becomes so involved with the paraphernalia of writing, publishing and promotion, that I stop living in the real world. Which is where, after all, we find our inspiration.




The contradictory needs of writing and promotion tug at us all.

I've learned to use the time I spend marketing and promoting as an exercise in studying people to get ideas for future characters and plot ideas. What makes them tick? What if...? That kind of stuff.

It helps me feel like I'm still doing some "writing" although I'm not at the keyboard or bent over a notebook.

Good luck on the balance of your tour.

Sheila Lowe said...

As I sit here, booking a lot of summer air travel, you echo my feelings precisely! Best of luck on all you're doing, and may it bring you a flood of wonderful new readers.

peter_may said...

I guess everything is grist to the mill, Linda. I know that I will use some of the places I have been, and some of the characters I have met, in future books. So it's not all lost time - especially if it sells a few books.

Thanks for the good wishes, Sheila. It's always nice to know that there are others how there who empathize.

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