Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A juggler's life

Barbara here. The last few blogs on Type M have essentially been about balls in the air. Keeping track of them, wondering who put them up there, worrying whether they will land on our head. Perhaps this is an apt metaphor for everyone's lives in the hectic, multi-tasking world most of us live in today.

It is certainly a metaphor for a writer's life. My children have all grown up and moved away, I have retired from my full-time professional career, and yet still my life is running full tilt. Either that, or my mind and body are not as nimble and efficient as they used to be. I prefer to think that's not the case! But I can't imagine running a household of children and working a full day on top of my current workload.

Here I am in the dog days of summer – August, that lazy month when people are on holidays, lounging at the lake, or sipping mint daiquiris on the patio. Not me! At least I am at the lake as I write this, listening to the rain pattering on the steel cottage roof. But here's a sample of the balls up in the air.

I am currently rushing to write most of the first draft of my latest mystery novel before my research trip to Newfoundland in three weeks. It's a tight race. When writing a first draft, I discipline myself to write at least one scene a day, typically writing for 3 hours in the morning. Every day, seven days a week (although I admit sometimes I cheat). Why do the first draft before the research, you wonder? Because I don't know what the story is and what information I need to research until I have written at least a rough story. There will be lots of holes in the draft, and the information that I learn on my trip will no doubt change details, but I hope the bones will stand up.

At the same time, I am also gearing up for the release of my latest Inspector Green novel in October. Although it's still summer in my head, fall is lying in wait around the next corner. Book tours and signings have to be set up, launches have to be planned. Invitations, venues, media... I have to update my website, my publisher's website, and the Crime Writers of Canada website to include all these new events. Stay tuned for the Toronto launch on October 7th and the Ottawa launch on October 29th.

Every day, I also have to attend to social media – Facebook, this blog, etc.– to keep myself connected with readers and friends, and to promote the upcoming events. This Saturday, for example, I am doing a reading with my good friend Vicki Delany in Perth Ontario at the Perth Classic Theatre, as an opener for their mystery play DIAL M FOR MURDER. I must find time to post a notice about it. If you live or vacation near Perth, come on down!

And somewhere in the middle of all this, I am waiting for an additional ball to come flying out of left field, in the form of the edits of my latest Cedric O'Toole mystery, due out from Orca Books in the spring of 2015. When they arrive, I will have to step out of my Newfoundland world and set aside my promotional efforts of NONE SO BLIND, in order to reconnect with Cedric O'Toole. When we write, we truly enter the worlds of our characters and our story, so jumping in and out is no mean feat.

In between, of course, I have to eat, sleep, and find time for friends and family. Sometimes I wish time would slow down just a little. But what a privilege it is to be doing what I truly love.

So then I think, the rocking chair can wait.


Donis Casey said...

writing the first draft before doing the research is a brilliant technique. You can get so caught up in research that you don't WRITE THE BOOK!

Barbara Fradkin said...

Actually, Donis, I normally do research before, during and after, but in this case, because I am visiting the setting for only three weeks, I have to line all my ducks up. No second chances. And you're right, research can be seductive.