OUTSIDE INTERESTS AND REWARDING DISTRACTIONS
Last week when I finally finished and proofed my latest book, I asked my husband, not usually a fan of women’s fiction, but an excellent editor, to read it before I submitted it. He’s not the first person to see the book so I wasn’t too worried about him liking it and looked forward to his usual critique. He did like it a lot, or as much as he would a work of “women’s” fiction, but more interesting to me was his amusement at how I incorporated so many aspects of my life into the book.
It seems that the world is divided into those who focus on a few things and do them really well and those who are interested in so many things that they can’t/don’t limit themselves. Accordingly they do several things fine, but don’t excel as they might have if they’d narrowed their focus.
A prime example from writing of someone who does nothing but write would be Janet Evanovich. As those of you who have heard her speak know, her life is writing. Although she lives in an extended family household with her husband, children and their spouses, writing is what she does all day long every day. By her own account, she gets up in the morning and writes. At the end of the day after dinner, she goes to bed thinking about what she is going to write the next day. She has said publicly that she never reads. Reading someone else’s work would interfere with her creative process.
An example of someone with a more complicated and varied existence would be Eloise James who has also spoken at RWA conferences. In addition to writing her regency romances, James is an English professor at Fordham University. Without needing to spell it out, Ms. James obviously must always be multi-tasking. Also evident is that she does both well.
My latest book took me three years to write. I only know because I checked in my computer and saw that was how long it’s been stored. It’s clear that I need to pick up my writing pace if I want to have more books out there. What’s interfering in that goal is my very complicated life that is entirely self-inflicted. I am a retired Deputy Attorney General of New Jersey. I retired so I could focus on my writing. Two years into retirement I was appointed a law guardian, a lawyer for children, in New York. The job doesn’t take as much time as being a DAG did, but it is a distraction. In addition, because I now live in Manhattan where I have access to a cornucopia of art, I have become a compulsive museum and gallery attender as well as an amateur painter. This also sucks up time.
It’s clear that I should spend more time in front of my computer. Should I also eliminate these other activities? Is it possible that my legal work and my art obsession enhance my writing? I like to think they do. What I do certainly makes my life richer and therefore more interesting. I believe protagonists gain from my experiences and knowledge though perhaps that belief is self-serving.
Am I instead an extreme case of multi-tasking? Are there other writers out there who also need to write more, even at the expense of their many interests.
Deborah Nolan is the author of Suddenly Lily and Conflict of Interest published by Montlake Publishing and Second Act for Carrie Armstrong published by Desert Breeze Press which will soon be available in hardcopy through Amazon.