Friday, November 10, 2017

A Writer's Life Ain't What You Think

A writer's life is a complicated one.

Some people think we just sit in our dens all day, typing happily away. Nah. What happens is, we get up groggy, make bad coffee, then stagger into our dens without a thought in our groggy heads. We sit there staring at our computer screen for a while, then type a sentence. The sentence is terrible. So we type another sentence (you'll notice that I don't say we erase the existing sentence), and it's as bad as the first one. We type another bad sentence, then another, then another...

And that's the way it goes for the rest of the day. Then a friend calls and asks, "Get much writing done today?"

"Eight hundred-plus words," we answer, leaving out the "terrible" part.

"Man, that must be exiting to be able to produce like that."

"More or less." Mostly less. "Well, I gotta go. Need to write some more." Need to write some more terrible stuff, we mean. "Bye!"

We face the glowing screen again. Read what we wrote. Still terrible. No, wait a minute, some of it is even worse than terrible. It's execrable. But we write some execrable stuff anyway, and keep doing so until the appointed time to stop. Then we go read something by someone else, and it's really, really good, and we get really, really jealous.

That's my average day. On a bad day, I writer twelve hundred terrible words, then give up around six or seven hours after I'd started writing, and wonder if they're hiring down at Walmart.

Sounds depressing, doesn't it? But that's a writer's life. The minute you start being satisfied with what you wrote, it's probably time to take up another profession. Because writing is hundreds and hundreds of hours of hard, hard work that you are completely dissatisfied with, and that -- even after your book hits the bookstores -- you wish you'd done another draft before you sent it off to your editor.

The only thing that keeps us going is remembering that Hemingway said, "All first drafts are shit."

And it's true. My first draft is always shit. My second draft is a little less shitty. The third draft, even less shitty. And the fourth draft? Well, dang, it's almost good!

But I'm not truly satisfied, which is why I write my next book.

In the hopes that it will be better.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

      DESERT VENGEANCE, the 9th Lena Jones mystery,
                           debuts February 4, 2017

MARCH 4 THROUGH MAY 31 -- As Writer in Residence, Betty will be teaching creative writing classes and helping writers one-on-one with their manuscripts every Monday and Saturday at the Avondale Public Library, 11350 Civic Center Dr., Avondale AZ. For the exact schedule call 623-333-2602. This is a FREE service provided by a grant from Arizona State Library.

2017 events..............................................................................................................................

3-5 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, March 22, and March 29. Betty teaches "Writing Memoirs People Will Actually Read" at the R.H. Johnson Library, 13801 W. Meeker Blvd., Sun City West AZ

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 (an hour and a half before the Memoir class) Betty discusses writing DESERT VENGEANCE and how that was a different experience than writing her other books. At the R.H. Johnson Library, 13801 W. Meeker Blvd., Sun City West AZ

7 p.m., Tuesday, March 21, Betty will discuss "Living the Writer's Life" at the Avid Readers Book Club. St. Anthony Episcopal Church, 12990 E. Shea, Scottsdale AZ. The public is invited.

11 a.m., Friday, June 2, Betty teaches "Writing the Reader-Friendly Memoir" at North Valley Regional Library, Anthem AZ. Part of the Maricopa County Reads Summer Reading program.

2 p.m. Saturday, June 10, Betty teaches "Writing the Reader-Friendly Memoir" at Chandler-Sunset Library, Chandler AZ. Part of the Maricopa County Reads Summer Reading program.

6 p.m. Monday, June 19, Betty teaches "Writing the Reader-Friendly Memoir" at Litchfield Park Branch Library, Litchfield Park AZ. Part of the Maricopa County Reads Summer Reading program.

6 - 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 26. Betty teaches "Writing the Contemporary Novel" at Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe.

7 p.m. Monday, August 7. Betty interviews Dawn Reno Langley, author of "The Mourning Parade," at Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale.

10:22 a.m. Monday, August 21. Betty will be photographing the total solar eclipse in Casper, Wyoming. And it'll probably wind up in a book.