The End Days

I’ve learned since 2013. I hate this “ending” period perhaps the most. A novel is essentially finished…

“Controlled chaos.” The home office, this morning. [Photo by me, 2017.]
…but it’s not “quite” (in my mind) finished.

And you take a photo of your desk and put it on your blog as you plan to return to it once more. Because it’s your “baby” and it’s almost all grown up. And you want it to be PERFECT – or at least as “perfect” as you as an imperfect human may make it.

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“What are we to do with all of you?”

Another week. Oh, and I admit, I forgot! That game was last night!

I’ve had lots else on my mind. We also had a cousin pass through here on his way back to the U.S. We went out to dinner with him on Saturday.

Pre-dinner, we had chatted about my latest manuscript. As we did, I thought on Monday I’d share a final peek into it.

But I was unable to decide on any single part that could be seen as “representative” overall. So after some thought I decided I’d put up some “rapid” shorts sort of like a film promo – to provide the flavor of the tale. They aren’t in any particular order – except for the last one. (If you click on any of the pages below, it will expand for easier reading.) Enjoy. πŸ™‚

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My “Gone With The Wind” (I Laughed)

When you have finished the rough draft of your latest book one day earlier than you had targeted it for completion, what do you do? Well, I sat there stunned and shattered. Later, I watched an old film and decompressed:

And I went for a quick walk:

I did not go inside. I resisted. I had thought, though, maybe…

Earlier, I had also “freed” my book at last from the confines of a PC file and printed the ENTIRE manuscript for the first time. In its three dimensional form it’s now 516 pages (double-sided printed, of course) and it took the printer about three hours to work through it all. At last I could point to it and say, 13 months of work (so far):

Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]
Conventions: The Garden At Paris. The manuscript. It is no longer just an abstraction sitting in a PC. [Photo by me, 2017.]

I was so pleased, as you see I took a photo of it. As I looked at it, I thought as well that I still couldn’t believe it. All of that had once been merely an “idea” bouncing around vaguely in my head.

Soon the “editor” – she may well be reading this post – will receive a copy. Now the truly scary part commences. I hope she has a spare month or so of reading time!

I have just Facetimed my wife in Portugal and waved it at her: “My Gone With The Wind,” I laughed.

She came back, “Let’s hope it sells like that!”

Indeed, and as I look again now at that huge pile of paper, my uncle comes to mind. If you are a regular visitor, you know he died in October 2015. He had been a crime novelist published starting in the early 1980s by “big name” companies.

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The All-Consuming “Monster”

On Friday, Kate Colby wrote a thoughtful post on “writing through your fear” – including on a writer needing to face down worries about receiving poor reviews. I liked it so much I left her this comment:

Great post, Kate. So well put – especially on the fear of poor reviews issue.

I’m sure no author likes a 1 star Amazon review. After all, who wants to read someone saying you’ve written junk? It’s human to fear scathing criticism.

When I write, I always remind myself that EVERY author produces books that earn them some negative reactions. Even J.K. Rowling gets poor reviews. It is impossible to write and expect to achieve universal applause, and if that’s a writer’s yardstick for success I would suggest that person find another line of work. πŸ™‚

And she liked that comment! It earned a positive review!πŸ˜‚

All kidding aside, it’s a remarkable coincidence Kate wrote that as I am almost finished with my single biggest novel-writing effort yet. To use the clichΓ©, my “moment of truth” is fast approaching. Eventually someone other than myself has to read the entire book.

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Inauguration Day (30 April 1789)

Recently elected President George Washington – the first president under the then just ratified Constitution (under which the U.S. government still operates) – delivered his inaugural address in New York City on April 30, 1789. The text is eight – that’s right, only eight – pages long and is in his handwriting. Held at the National Archives, these are its first and last pages:


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This Writer’s Yesterday

What do novelists do all day? My uncle had told me any writer gets asked that question regularly. So I thought that I’d try to explain what this one did … yesterday.

Now that the holidays are over, I have no excuses. I’ve decided to target finishing Conventions by the end of January. We’ll see if I can live up to that; but planting a timescale flag is necessary or one is apt to drift. However, even if I can manage that, with all that follows after the last word is “officially” written, it will not be available probably before March.

As you may know I try to write a blog post here five or so times a week. But as you may have also noticed I have fallen off that pace recently as I have found myself working increasingly on the last stages of the book. To give you all a morning wave, yesterday I chose Instagram:

It was not a great weather morning here early yesterday as well. So I posted that Knebworth Park summer photo. (But the sun did come out eventually during the day.) Not long after I’d posted it, I was off and running…

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History: Unfollowed

Ah, Monday morning:

And less than two weeks before the inauguration of a new U.S. president who has not exactly charmed half the people in the country, we need this?

Yesterday, History on Instagram shared some “history” with us.

Good grief.

First, nothing in that History Insta-caption above is outright false. However, it is an inch deep and far from the whole truth. For that shallowness in the current climate, and what it unleashed in the post’s comments, I unfollowed.

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Message For “The Elite”

I’m home again in England from America. (As you probably know, I was born in New York.) We had a busy Christmas, with a small mob from this side of the Atlantic flying over to stay with us in the Catskills. It feels kinda odd being back here:

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, arrivals concourse yesterday morning. [Photo by me, 2017.]
Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5, arrivals concourse yesterday morning. [Photo by me, 2017.]

Fighting jet lag, in trying to force myself to stay awake last night I went through my Instagram feed slowly. What did I miss while flying? I checked up on what had been “going on” while I had been traveling and out of contact with you “guys.”

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Once, It Was 1840

Another new year is upon us, of course. I’ve seen in 2017 here in the Catskills, a low mountain range about 100 miles north of New York City. They are scenic, as well as awash with history – including literary history: for example, New Yorker Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” (which Irving wrote while in England) “lived” here.

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A Few Days Of Holiday Hibernation

Here, near Windham in the Catskills, we awoke to some snow yesterday:

Lovely to look at and fortunately not enough to be a major driving problem. English relatives will be arriving here later today, driving up from Manhattan where they’ve been sightseeing for the last two days. We’re prepared:

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