This post appears right now on Sleuthsayers, The Criminal Blog populated by Derringer award winners, among others. Repeated here for my regular readers.
A long time ago, back when video stores were kind of a cool new thing, I was whooping it up in the Toronto Press Club with some eminently more famous Toronto columnists and reporters. One of them, Scottish he was, asked me this: "Tell me, lass. You have a syndicated humour column, you've written comedy, you've had over two dozen short stories published...so why aren't you writing a novel?"
After much deliberation, my exceedingly clever answer was:
That got a round of applause (actually make that a round of scotch) from the somewhat sozzled guys at the bar.
No really. Even then, I knew that writing a novel would be a rat-poop load of work. It wasn't that I was allergic to work. I had honed the art of writing 650-800 words every week, and making them passably funny. But writing 80,000 words for one project?
That was 1995, I think. Since then, I've written 17 novels, and 50 more short stories. And let me tell you.
Writing is WORK. Holy hell, is it work. It is a freaking black hole of work and time and bloodletting. Time suck, soul suck, give your life over to the keyboard for MONTHS.
I've heard other authors say they can't wait to sit down to write the first page of a new novel. That they get so excited when they start something new.
That isn't me. After 17 books, I know what's coming. Months of hunkering over the keyboard, doubting myself, loving, then hating my characters (Jesus Murphy, WHY is she such a whiny nincompoop?) Finding the Black Moment. BECOMING the black moment.
So to illustrate, my starts are more like this:
Me: "Sob!" (hits head against desk) "I don't want to. Don't make me. I can't do it again..." (reaches for scotch with head still on desk)
Working-class Muse, possibly from Jersey, the wrong side: "Listen sister. Sit your fat bippie down and get a move-on. These things don't write themselves."
Me: "But it's so HARD." (slurping puddle of scotch sideways through a straw.)
Muse: "You think THIS is hard? Remember before you were published? Remember all those rejection letters from publishers? We insulated the walls of the cottage with them."
Me (sniveling): "Too bad the place caught fire."
Muse: "Maybe if you hadn't written BURN IN HELL on all of them..."
At about this time in the ritual, W-C Muse says the magic motivation words: "Sit up sister. YOU GOT A CONTRACT."
Me: "Oh right. Move over, and pass the scotch."
And so it goes.
I'm at that stage right now. staring the page in the face, knowing I have to start book 2 in a new series, thinking I'd rather jump out this picture window into the lake below (even though I'm 4 stories up and about 50 feet from shore. So it would be quite a leap.)
I started life as a columnist, so I know I should wrap up on positive note.
Writing is hard. But it's my life, and I suspect it's yours too.
Campbell has won ten awards, including the Derringer, the Arthur Ellis, the
Hamilton Reads Award, and a city of Toronto award for best children’s book in high
school, which is probably as far away from The Goddaughter mob caper series as
you can get.