One reader writes: What about writing habits? Oh yes, writing habits. Me, I begin each writing day with a large bottle of single-malt Scotch…kidding, kidding. Sort of.
I was lucky with The Ice Beneath You: although a multi-year project, the one year that I did most of the heavy lifting I was home. Not so for Voodoo Lounge. Most of Voodoo Lounge required a 5 or 6 am wakeup and an hour or two of writing before day-job work…a very long, tedious, frustrating way to write a novel. It usually takes half an hour just to get your head right, not leaving a huge amount of time for actual forward writing. But, you know, we do what we can do, yes?
Let’s be real here: very few published novelists can afford to do nothing else. It is possible, through circumstances of marriage or lifestyle decision (i.e., choosing to live very poor) or the very occasional bestseller. But most of us have to work, at least part time. Best way to go about this is to teach, that’s what the smart ones do. You get your summers off, you get a fairly light schedule (don’t even start with me about your meetings and heavy teaching schedules…you’re not lifting boxes, are you? I’m the son of a college professor: you’re not fooling me). It’s good for writing, the academic life. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have an MFA. Nor an MA. Nor even a BA. And so, I am 100% not qualified to teach creative writing. Published novels, good reviews, an NPR gig…none of that counts. I am unedjumacated, so ergo cannot be trusted with the unformed minds of college kids (for the best, really).
These days, I find myself copywriting. As Augusten Burroughs so aptly put it, the advertising world doesn’t give a tin shit about your degree as long as you can sell bad shampoo.
Any closeted work writers out there? Let’s hear your stories of woe and manuscripts-found-by-boss…tell all, friends, tell all... blmcwb at att dot net.
These days, as in now, this month, I am finishing my third book, or trying to. The novel is called In Hoboken, and is set (um, well, you know…) in Hoboken. In 1995. In a community mental health center. More I cannot say. It will be on shelves, God and Simon & Schuster willing, maybe late 2006. The title, besides being simply obvious, is a tip of the hat to Penelope Fitzgerald (At Freddy’s) and Bruce Chatwin (In Patagonia).