I finished writing my new Dorothy Parker Mystery, A Moveable Feast of Murder, the other day, and I have to admit that I feel a little bit let down after the intense surge these past weeks in completing the text. Of course there’s a lot left to do, but the book is in the hands of my copyeditor, Shelley, now, and my designer, Eric, is working on the cover art before he gets the edited text for typesetting. He takes the final steps in the production of the softcover version and the creation of e-book files for all the various e-reading devises out there, so I am sort of hanging around like a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy. Just waiting around.
So I do the little bits, like writing the captions for the photos that will enhance the book, and thinking about where they will be placed in the book, and I have to write a blurb to use on the back cover and in the press releases and for promotional purposes. I re-write the afterword and the acknowledgements pages, too. And yes, my blog, which I have neglected because I’ve been so wrapped up in my novel that I can’t think about the distraction of writing a blog.
And then I think: Oh, maybe I should go back and add this or that, or re-write that or this, but I know that if I were to keep doing that I would drive myself crazy and eventually ruin the book that was such fun—really a joy—to write. Understand that I take pains to get everything right, and I rewrite constantly, but there is a point where you can lose the spontaneity that makes my books fun for the reader.
I think what happens is that when I am writing I become so involved in the story and my characters and what they are experiencing that by the time I get half-way through, I am in that world with them, and by the end I am loath to leave them behind.
Writers don’t just sit and write all day. I spend the majority of my “writing” walking around, doing errands, continuing research, reading, thinking, thinking and doing more thinking. Then I sit down, write what is bursting to come out of my head, and then, like Hemingway used to do, I walk away from the keyboard knowing that I have left a little bit of what’s in me unwritten; I never leave the well completely dry. I am primed to have a reserve in my head, so that the next day, after more walking around, doing errands, and thinking, I will be overflowing, and the urge to empty what’s in my mind onto the paper will return yet again. Where Hemingway walked the quai de Montebello and the Luxembourg Gardens and stopped for a café crème at La Closerie des Lilas after a good morning of writing, I walk down the main street of my nineteenth century small town, U.S.A., stop for coffee and a chat with friends at Rockhill Café, and walk through Sheppard’s Park along Lake George.
But for now my characters are silent, at least until I decide to make them move and talk and inhale and exhale a new story in next book in the Dorothy Parker Mystery series. It sounds crazy, I know, but I miss them a little, the real-life people I write about as well as the ones who materialize on the page. I had such a grand time with them on the ship crossing to France, and so much adventure and laughter and mayhem in Paris while there in 1926—me and Dorothy and Mr. Benchley and Hemingway (He lets me call him Hem) and Scott and his nutty and sad wife, Zelda, and the Murphys, Sara and Gerald (God! How I love that couple!) and of course Aleck Woollcott and Harpo Marx . . . . Anyway, I was there, with them in the Paris in my head back in 1926. I lived with them there for many months of research, planning, plotting and the best part, the two and a half months of writing what they said and did. Read what I did with them all in June.
Until next time,