Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summertime. And the Living Ain't Easy.

109.2 °F

My latest manuscript is in the hands of my editor. It will more than likely be after the Independence Day holiday before I hear the verdict. I expect a great deal of rewriting is in my future.

In the meantime, I, Donis, am working on a couple of short stories, doing some book reviewing. Trying to accomplish something. Anything. But it is summer in southern Arizona and trying to get anything done is problematic to say the least. A friend of mine pointed out that Arizona summers are the price we pay for our gorgeous winters. The winters are fantastic and it is nice to rub it in when it's seventy degrees and sunny here and ten below with fifteen feet of snow and ice everywhere else. However, summer is a steep price to pay.

The past week or so hasn't been too bad. Daily highs of 108ºF to 111ºF. One can tell a long-time Arizonan by the fact that she thinks as long as it's below 110ºF, that's "not too bad". Early in June we had several days between 115º and 118º. They were predicting 120º, so we dodged the bullet there.

There are Arizonans who brag about surviving or even loving the heat, just as native North Dakotans brag about the cold. But I'm not one of them. Three months of super heat is exhausting. I get cabin fever. I try to get any errands done in the morning, but banks and stores often don't open before nine or ten a.m., and it's already hot enough for sunstroke by then.

My writing life is not helped by my heat-induced ennui. I have to gear myself up for the task of writing. A few years ago I read an interview with Walter Mosely in which he said it was no problem for him to sit down day after endless day and write, since to him writing was like having to have sex every morning. It may be his job, but he still enjoys it very much.

I wish I were the same. I don’t love it, as a rule, especially when I’m just beginning a new work. I love the ideas, I love working out the details of the story. I love the imagining. But for me writing the first draft is like writing a term paper. What I really love - the endorphin rush for me - comes when I am finished, or nearly so. Then I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, and amazement that I created something that I like so much. Because I always write what I like to read.


Anne Canadeo said...

I admire you for being so productive right after you've turned in a manuscript, Donis. And in the dreadful heat, besides. I usually collapse like a deflated balloon and need to recharge at least a week or two before I can work on anything else. Unless there is something important due. I also feel a particular sense of anxiety before starting a new project. What is that about? I have to remind myself of all the years I've been doing this and books published, but the static is still there. Once I get rolling and hear the voices of the characters in my head, even when I am away from my desk, and start seeing what will be happening next, I know it's going to be okay. As usual the problem is allowing the critical voice in my head to have too much say. Basically, thinking too much . And thinking is not writing, it's something completely different . :-)

Sybil Johnson said...

I would not survive that heat! I'm like you, I think. I love the ideas I get for a story, the plotting part, but I find the actual writing of the first draft very hard. Editing is easier, but still hard. But I do feel a sense of accomplishment at the end.

Michael Wise said...

I'm writing from New Vessel Press to let you know that we have a thrilling Parisian murder mystery called The Madonna of Notre Dame coming out on October 11, set in the world's most famous cathedral.

I'd like to send you an advance PDF of the book and hope that you'll feature it on your blog.

Here's a summary and some advance praise:

Fifty thousand believers and photo-hungry tourists jam into Notre Dame Cathedral on August 15 to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. The next morning, a stunningly beautiful young woman clothed all in white kneels at prayer in a cathedral side chapel. But when an American tourist accidentally bumps against her, her body collapses. She has been murdered: the autopsy reveals disturbing details. Police investigators and priests search for the killer as they discover other truths about guilt and redemption in this soaring Paris refuge for the lost, the damned, and the saved. The suspect is a disturbed young man obsessed with the Virgin Mary who spends his days hallucinating in front of a Madonna. But someone else knows the true killer of the white-clad daughter of Algerian immigrants. This thrilling novel illuminates shadowy corners of the world’s most famous cathedral, shedding light on good and evil with suspense, compassion and wry humor.

“With vigorous writing, Alexis Ragougneau sweeps us away on a high-flying investigation.”
—Le Monde

“Thrilling until the last page, an unforgettable investigator, real life characters: The French
crime novel has found its new pope.”
—RTL Television

“Alexis Ragougneau demonstrates indisputable talent and promise as a crime writer and
—Le Point

“Impeccable drama and the characters are first-rate.”

Alexis Ragougneau is a playwright, and The Madonna of Notre Dame is his first novel.
He has worked in Notre Dame Cathedral helping monitor tourist crowds
and knows well its infinite secrets and the forgotten souls who linger in its darkest corners.

Thank you for considering this and I look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Wise

Michael Z. Wise
New Vessel Press

Donis Casey said...

Anne, I usually collapse in a heap when I finish a MS as well. But in the summer I can't spend much time outdoors, so it's either diddle around with some writing or clean house. Sybil, they say you acclimatize, and it's true that I'm much more tolerant of heat that I used to be, as long as there's no humidity. But I don't care how used to it I am, 118 F is too damn hot. (I can no longer take the cold, by the way, so you Northerners have that over me and my desert-dwelling kind)