Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Goodbye Old Year, Hello New

By Chester Campbell

Anno Domini 2009 is just about history. I'm not too sure it will be missed. From last weekend's misfiring bomber to the continuing winterization of half the country, it's been one disaster after another. It started out with the economy in the doldrums, then Congress and the Federal Reserve proceeded to put us in debt up to our hairline (eyeballs won't get it anymore). The president rang in the new year as the great hope of the masses, and now the masses have turned against him for failing to live up to his billing.

In the mystery world, independent bookstores have been closing while the chains have cut back amidst singing the blues. Publishers talk hard times and slow the presses. Only the ebooks seem to be bucking the trend.

So what's a writer to do? It's probably time to take the plunge. But which plunge?

Door Number 1 opens onto a high bluff looking out over a magnificent valley filled with green grass and colorful blooms, a babbling brook winding serenely through the lush landscape. What a way to go!

Door Number 2 opens onto a small room littered with books read and to-be-read, stacks of manuscripts that may or may not see the light of an editor's desk lamp, a raft of notes containing nebulous ideas, and a blank computer screen with a winking cursor. What a challenge!

I chose Door Number 2. But it ain't easy. After piddling around with it the past several months, I found I had written barely over 29,000 words. Since my books average a little more than 70,000 words, that meant I would probably have the book finished sometime next summer. With 2009 winding down, I decided it was time to really take the plunge. I set a goal of 2,000 words a day, five days a week. At that rate, I should be finished by early February.

I strarted today (Monday) and ended up adding 1900 words. Close, but no cigar. I had to stop to write this blog entry. The blog must go on. I'll be at it again in the morning. What made the difference? I checked my email but didn't dawdle online. I replied to one Facebook message and skipped Twitter. I skimmed Murder Must Advertise but skipped DorothyL.

Another thing I did was advise my wife of my new commitment. She was quite judicious in asking my help around the house, and we made only one trip together to go by the bank, the post office, and to walk 30 minutes at the mall.

Now that I know I can do it, I'm off and running. So long 2009...welcome 2010. I see better days ahead. How about you?


Beth Terrell said...

You nailed it, Chester. I know you'll attack this new goal with your usual determination.

Looking forward to reading the next bit.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Good for you, Chester. I've had the same problem. With three blogs of my own and contributing to two more (including this one), moving to a mountaintop and other things, I've really fallen off the writing wagon. (Fortunately, my Mysterious People blog interviews evolved into a book.) My New Year's Resolution is to write five pages a day, if I have to stay up half the night to do it.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Chester. Like you, I have let everything interfere with finishing my work in progress. WHAT is my problem? I wish I knew!

It's so hard not to blog, and to stay off Facebook and listservs. I just like to chat and rattle on about nothing much.

I quit Twitter and LinkedIn. I'd quit Facebook except it put me in contact with friends and relatives I hadn't heard from in years.

Oh, well -- another year, another chance to pull up my socks and get back to the book I started NINE YEARS AGO. Holy moley! It better be good.

Pat Browning

Chester Campbell said...

I'm on Day 3 and I've done pretty good so far. The first day I did 2000 words. Second day about 1700. So far today it's 1500. I'll finish 2000 before bedtime. Just have to keep pushing.