After my last Blog Post, you may be wondering...
What is a serious writer doing wandering in the countryside of France, looking up at the beautiful skies instead of keeping her head down at her desk. If she were truly dedicated to writing fiction, she would be tapping away all day long to realize all the storyline suggestions already received from some of her readers, those who want more Detective Ralph Orloff Mysteries, those who say “no” to Ralph’s retirement from CAPS,
those who want to see Ralph really making love to Claudine (not just dreaming about being in bed with her), those who want the full story of the Sorrentino serial killings, the case that drove Ralph to lie on the couch, those who want to move past the ‘cozy' circle of the psychoanalytic community and see Ralph back on the trail of the next hard-boiled serial killer on the loose in LA, perhaps with Claudine as a
regular consultant. These folks want to read more dream-clues that make "Detective Ralph Orloff a homicide detective like no other.”
Perhaps these fans are not in the least interested in what makes me tick, what rings my bell, or what captures my heart; They are just out for blood and 21st Century deductive reasoning. I
wonder sometimes if those who don’t write think that the secret to writing is to remain tied to a desk, staring at a the computer screen eight hours per day. Sure, during the confinement here in France and before we were fully vaccinated, I did just that to keep my sanity. For me, the act of writing was life-giving and sometimes there is the immense
feeling of pleasure in the creative aspect of this work that involves a significant element of ‘play’ that stimulates my mind, and that helps my writing to come from my heart, not just from my head. And while we’re on the subject of writing from the heart, I would be remise not to make some mention of my memoir.
Of all the works I have created, this is the one of which I am most proud. I call it my third analysis because each new experience since our lead-up to retirement and our first three years in Paris was clearly and
inexorably linked to something, someplace, or someone in my past, and as such, this volume is a creation of my unconscious, one that enabled me to have a third take on my life, the people who impacted that life and made me who I am and who I am still becoming. It is a story of a life filled with transformations.
Considering that I have never been required to market any of my clinical/psychoanalytic books, I never would have imagined how difficult this part of being an author can be. I had never thought that anything could ever induce me to create a personal website or to write a blog post, or to join FaceBook or post photos on Instagram.
Nor would I have given a second thought to begging friends to read and review my books. The necessity for investigating the field of self-publishing had never before crossed my mind. However, I am aging fast, and if I wait for a publisher to get his or her ass (that’s the animal also known as a donkey) in gear, my work would either have been published posthumously, or it may never have seen the light of day!
When I realized that self-publishing creates more problems than it solves, I was told by a dear friend that in order to be a “complete author “One must do things one never had thought to do in ones wildest dreams." This last twenty-eight months certainly have been one very long wild dream! That said, I might add that there are many other experiences that contribute to the make-up a "complete author.”
Of course, taking the time to read books is key. But the acknowledged, esteemed, successful, and “complete authors" all have various needs to satisfy in order to refill their cache on behalf of good storytelling. Each has his or her own proscribed regime for the act of writing.
Stephen King has a daily writing quota of two thousand words and rarely allows himself to quit until he's reached this goal. He begins writing at about 8:30 am and finishes between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm, at which point he is free for naps, letters, reading, family and watching the Red Sox games on TV in season.
Alison Littlewood has a completely different regime. Her morning rituals are more about not writing – she doesn't feel as if she‘s awake until she’s walked her dog, taken some fresh air into her lungs before sitting down with her cup of tea to do ‘webby' or administrative things, check Facebook, etc, and maybe do some research. Then it’s time for a quick lunch before work can begin in earnest. She's more of an afternoon person when it comes to writing.
"American Psycho" author Brent Easton Ellis drinks coffee, reads a couple of chapters from the book he’s currently onto and makes his bed before he sits down to write. He also reads the newspaper and eats breakfast, after which he’s in his office for the majority of the day writing. He goes out at night with friends for recreation.
Ian McEwen, one of my favorite and most thoroughly read authors, said that turning up is the first condition. He works until lunchtime on his huge homemade desk on an Apple computer, with notes filled with ideas and books he‘s using for his research stacked all around him. At lunchtime
he listens to World at One, has a sandwich, and walks his very active sheepdog, and if things are going well, he might work on into the afternoon and sometimes through the evening. He is also a firm believer that reading is an essential part of the work.
The gifted and kaleidoscopic author, Haruki Murakami gets up at four a.m. and works for five to six hours. Then, in the afternoon, he runs for ten kilometers or swims for fifteen hundred meters, or both. Afterward, he reads a bit and listens to music and retires to bed at nine p.m. He sticks to this routine religiously at least six months out of the year.
The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s his way of mesmerizing himself to achieve a certain depth in his state of mind. To hold to such repetition for so long requires mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Murakami insists that, for him, physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.
Classical fantasy author C.S. Lewis had a very specific ritual:
8:00 – breakfast
9:00 – At his desk to read or write, with tea time at 11AM
1:00 – Lunch time
2:00 He took a long walk alone, but no longer than 2 hours.
5:00 -7:00 – back to writing/reading
Supper and in bed no later than eleven.
Mark Twain was said to consume a huge breakfast, locked himself in his study working until dinner, and if his family needed him, they’d blow a horn! That's all.
For me, writing with my morning coffee -- when my unconscious mind has yet to seal up against the real world and the imaginary--
is the ideal scheme. However, as I grow older, and especially since Covid-19 took over the world, I can write all day, every day. But when the sun peaks through and the rain doesn’t threaten, I try to take the day to see, smell, and taste the world outside. The change of scene and the long nature walks alter my mental state for the better, and makes me grateful for the life I have here in France, and the exposure to French words and history enriches my vocabulary and enlarges my repertoire of visual imagery. I’m nourished by what I inhale while looking up at the skies, across the meadows, and down at the flowers, as well as by drinking a good glass of red wine and gazing at my darling husband’s handsome face while listening to the expression of his
cultured, disciplined, and inquisitive intellect. Then finally we arrive home again to the warm purring vibes of our furry feline buddy, Mickey.
Enough of me. You go read, revel and rove to your heart’s content and I’ll be back by Halloween to share my favorite murder mysteries with anyone who cares to know. Please feel free to share yours as well. Don’t be shy with written words and be assured that anonymity will be preserved if you so wish❣️