Friday, November 16, 2007


By Barbara D'Amato

Two of my blogmates and I each finished a book in the last couple of weeks. Given that a book may take a year, more or less, to write, sometimes a lot more, finishing is a cause for celebration. How do people celebrate?

For me, getting past the sagging middle is a big thing. The middle is the place I wonder why I ever thought this was a good idea for a book and where I realize the great, golden idea I had before I started wasn’t going to quite turn out the way I vaguely pictured it. After that, I begin to be happy about the ideas I never guessed earlier I would think of. They appear to be gifts from the ether. When I finish the book, I am already planning the next one.

And clean the office.

Here are some other responses:

Sara Paretsky:

I almost always suffer postpartum depression and do nothing, not the good kind of nothing, but the empty unhappy kind. A few months after finishing Bleeding Kansas I turned 60. I had grandiose plans--renting a cottage in France or Italy or having a big party--but in the end I just sat in the garden with my dog until my agent called to demand that I start work on a new project. I can't even lay claims to a 3-day binge--one of the things that separates me from the world of "real" writers is that I have a very low tolerance for alcohol--more than a glass of wine or whisky makes me sick. I guess I ate my weight in hot fudge sundaes for 3 months and reread old favorites like Allingham and Gilbert.

Kevin Guilfoile:

In no particular order: see the doctor, see the dentist, clean the garage, change the oil in the car, sell my house, start running again, condense about thirty hours of video I've shot of the kids the last two years into something watchable, clean my office, help my parents move, fix the snowblower, see a movie, and read, read read.

Libby Hellmann:

I give myself a day or two to do whatever I want… then I start feeling guilty that I’m not writing and start a new book or short story.

Michael Allen Dymmoch:

I try to avoid decompression sickness--the physical reaction, usually cold or flu symptoms or actual illness that occurs when the pressure is suddenly off. Avoidance may take the form of plunging into another project, sleeping for a day or two, or compulsive reading or TV consumption.

Marcus Sakey:

I do have a ritual. It's called the Sacred Week of Fuck-All. Basically, I give myself a week off, and spend it catching matinees (this time, No Country For Old Men), pampering myself (got a massage), doing mildly adventurous things (I went rock climbing), reading (LAMB and EVERY CROOKED POT), treating myself to lunch (fish & chips at Duke of Perth, barbeque at Sheffields, burgers at the Billy Goat), and playing videogames (Bioshock).
Sadly, this week ended on Sunday. Which means I'm back to work yesterday and today. But even that's kind of nice, because I'm doing promotional stuff, redesigning my website, planning my tour, that sort of thing. Stuff I can do while listening to music, and without the self doubt that accompanies the rest of the year, when I'm writing.

Anybody out there with stories?


Sara Paretsky said...

Okay, now I'm really depressed. All the other kids are cleaning garages, climbing rocks, giving themselves 24 hours before starting a new project, and my report card is reading "not a self starter, doesn't play well with others." I'd write more, but I need to get to the store for more hot fudge.

bdamato said...

Frankly, I figure I owe a (fiction) book fifty pages, and if it's not blowing my mind by that time I drop it.

If you're writing one, though, I think it had better start blowing the browser's mind by about the fifth line, if not the fifth word, or it's unlikely to close the sale.

ab said...

Actually, I feel for you, Sara. I don't tolerate alcohol either and am a great sucker for sitting and doing nothing. And my plans are equally grandiose. But there is much so say for anticipation, even if it comes to nothing, don't you think? :)

Barbara D'Amato said...

I am not the bdamato above, but he is a relative.

As to sitting around, one of the great physicists said that he berated himself for sitting around and not working until he realized that was how he worked. I thought it was Richard Feynman, but my husband sais no. Anybody know?

Barbara D'Amato said...

It seems to have been Andrew Wiles, who solved Fermat's Last Theorem.

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