Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Gift or Sickness?

Recently I added an app to my iPhone that counts down to special days. I'm using it to countdown to my retirement from my day job as a paralegal. Not to the exact day, but the first day I will be able to retire. The exact day will be determined later.

It's not that I dislike my day job. I don't. I really enjoy it and the people I work with. It's a nice place and they treat us well and pay us well.

It's just that I'd rather be WRITING ALL DAY ALL THE TIME!

At a time when most people are thinking about spending leisurely days puttering, traveling, and spending more time with grandchildren, I want to be spending my days hunched in front of a computer writing like zombies are breathing down my neck.

I'd rather be no where else in the world!

Except maybe doing it at the beach or in the mountains instead of in a corner of my apartment.

It is no secret that I am a very prolific author. Even with a full-time job, I generally crank out two novels/novellas a year, with the odd short story thrown in. This is an unusual year for me. By the end of 2015, I will have completed two full-length novels and one novella for two different traditional publishers, and two novellas in my indie Winnie Wilde romance series.

That's 5 books, folks. In one year. With a day job.

And according to both professional and reader reviews, I'm doing a pretty good job at it.

I'm not saying this to brag. Really, I'm not. I'm pointing out what can be done when you hunger for something and apply yourself. If I exercised as much as I write, I'd be stick thin.

To be fair to my writing colleagues, some of the most important reasons I can produce so much is that I don't have a family to care for except for two cats, so my home obligations are minimal. My books are also contemporary and require very little deep research. My friends and family are incredibly understanding and supportive.

I'm also very jealous of my writing time, guarding it like Cerberus guarding the gates of hell. And I write pretty "clean." Meaning that I don't need to do much editing at the end, and  I don't do multiple drafts. The words flow from my brain and out my fingers as if I'm merely transcribing a movie I'm watching on the underside of my eyelids. I also work with rolling edits. I write several chapters, then go back and edit those until I'm happy with them, then move forward again. By the time I get to the end, I really only need to do one more slow pass-through editing sweep before it goes to my editors.

My apartment should be so clean, but that's another blog for another time.

There will come a day when I will not be able to keep up this pace. It's inevitable. This past long weekend I finished a manuscript and by the time I typed THE END, my hands were swollen. Not painful, but achy with arthritis. I can still type over 100 wpm with decent accuracy, but it comes at a price. I also have to do regular stretching to avoid pain in my shoulders, neck, chest, and upper back.

I often wonder when such a slow down will happen to my mind. Right now my gray matter has no trouble juggling several plot ideas and multiple characters at the same time. (BTW, I also keep good notes on my characters, time lines and series flow, which helps. But I believe that's just good housekeeping for authors.)

Next year I will only have one book under a contract deadline. The other books I write will be under my personal deadlines, which can be flexible according to my needs. I'm doing this on purpose, knowing I need to be more fluid with my time as I get older. My goal for 2016 is to complete two novels  and two novellas, but if I need to, all but one can be rescheduled.

Other authors are always asking how I do what I do. How can I be so prolific and crank out book after book without lowering the quality?

Frankly, I don't know. Really, I don't.

It's a gift, of that I'm sure. Or maybe it's a sickness? Maybe it's both. But as long as the gift keeps on giving and/or the illness goes unchecked, I'm along for the ride.

I hope all of you are too.

Okay, gotta run. I have two more novels to complete before the end of the year, and then there's that pesky day job. At least for the next 1,210 days ... but who's counting?


Anne Louise Bannon said...

Okay. I'm impressed. My one question - how do you make time for the promotion that we authors are told over and over we have to do? All that social media stuff/connecting with readers, etc.? That's what keeps tripping me up and making me crazy. But then, I've only got three books out. Sigh.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Anne, I make time each morning to connect on social media, and occasionally throughout the day for a minute or so. It doesn't take that much time if you get in and out. I do not travel for book signings because of the time and money involved, but make sure I interact every day with readers online via my FB page, twitter and my fan club. I blog at least once a week and my blogs are connects to various outlets like my Amazon page, Goodreads, and on FB. It all takes time, but you can learn to streamline it.