All Quiet on the Northwestern Front
So, it’s late morning here in Lithia, Florida, on Friday, March 31, 2023. Another week, and another month, and another quarter of a year, have ended.
I don’t have much in the way of news; the house in Brandon is still being remodeled and renovated, and since the owner and my caregiver are not involving any contractors – to save money, mostly – it’s going more slowly than they anticipated. When I was told in early November that I was going to move from here to “my” new place, the expectation was that it would be before my 60th birthday (March 5).
Well, March 5 came and went – in one of the most underwhelming “landmark birthdays” I’ve observed – and I’m still here.
So, all is quiet on the northwestern front, for now.
The only other bits of personal news are related to writing.
First, the last tweak on Reunion – the novella that I wrote way back in 1998 and self-published 20 years later via Amazon’s CreateSpace Independent Publishing and Kindle Direct Publishing – has been “live” on Amazon (and the online version of Barnes & Noble) for about a week. I adjusted the layout and color combination of the print edition’s cover a bit; it’s not perfect, mind you, but the text stands out a bit more against the shadowy areas of the illustration and should be easier to read now.
I wish the image on the book’s Amazon product page would show the new cover I chose for the second revised edition instead of the original art from 2018. Kindle Direct Publishing warned me that changes to the product page – essentially, the place where potential readers will see it and decide whether to buy a copy – takes longer than it does for edits to the content. Ideally, it’s supposed to be between 5 days to a week, but so far, I still see the 2018 cover and not the 2023 one.
(The Kindle e-book edition’s cover was changed too, but only once. I only messed with it once, while the cover on the print edition has been revised at least twice. So, maybe that’s why?)
Reading Time vs. Writing Time – My Daily Struggle with Time
Second, I’m still trying to accommodate “reading time” and “writing time.” As you know, my Tampa Bay area routine is different – and how! – from my routine in South Florida. I used to read more there than I do here, partly because my daily schedule depends on that of others here, but mostly because I have never found the perfect reading spot – aside from the bathroom, which paradoxically has the best lighting but otherwise is not recommended.
To be a writer, there are two things you must do every day: read a lot and write a lot. Most of the books that dispense advice about how to become a writer all agree on this. You can’t skip these two steps, Kemosabe. I’ve seen quite a few self-published authors who apparently read one book by, say, the late Tom Clancy, said to themselves, “Shit, man! I could write something like that,” and then upload a crappy, messy “novel” filled with errors, malapropisms, and cliches that is, at best, an unreadable carbon copy of the Clancy novel that “inspired” them.
As Stephen King says in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft:
“Good description is a learned skill, one of the prime reasons why you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot. It’s not just a question of how-to, you see; it’s also a question of how much to. Reading will help you answer how much, and only reams of writing will help you with the how. You can learn only by doing.”
If you’re a regular visitor to this space, you know that I write every day. Even if it’s just a 17-syllable haiku, I post on A Certain Point of View, Too at least once a day. (The current blog post counts no longer reflect that because I had to self-censor my blog in order to keep the peace with certain people but trust me on this: this blog had roughly 244 posts more in early January than it does today.)
I read every day, too. Most of that reading, though, is online, and in bite-sized pieces rather than in the full-course style of sitting in a designated reading room with a good novel, reference, how-to, or history book.
To some people, especially younger folks who are more at home in the digital age because that’s all they’ve known about, that’s fine.
To me, though? Nope. It’s not enough. But time management is not my forte – it’s been decades since I’ve had the structured life of a student in high school and college, after all – and I find it challenging to decide how to divide the daytime hours into “writing time” and “reading time.”
Maybe once I move to Brandon and I find my “perfect reading room” at the new place, I will resolve that issue. Now, though, I must choose between reading and writing, and because I’m so used to writing when I have most of my little gray cells fired up and running, the latter always wins out. (It’s also the “where the heck do I read?” thing, but it’s mostly the time-management one.)
So as much as some of you are looking forward to reading my next tale, you’re just going to have to be patient.
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