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December 2007--#3 Multitasking

It’s snowing out, and I love it! This is one of the best times for writing—when the traffic passing by my neighborhood sounds muffled and gentle—but I also love that I can stay cozy inside and go nowhere.
Unfortunately for those who have a real commute, it also means that traffic all around us in the Washington, D.C. area is in a snarl. Even an inch or two of snow seems to cause major confusion and multiple fender benders around the beltway. My husband called me from work to say it has taken him a full two hours to get to his office. He never has an easy commute but it usually runs under one hour.

So I’m doubly grateful that my personal daily commute is from the kitchen and down four steps into my office. Usually made in jeans, sweatshirt and slippers. But even though my travel time is short (and my business attire relaxed) that doesn’t mean I’ll have a leisurely day.
First I must finish writing an article I’ve promised to the regional Mystery Writers of America newsletter. Next, there are letters to a dozen of my correspondence students. Later today I need to focus on some plotting details for my next novel. I also owe advertising copy to a writers’ magazine, and I have to respond to more than twenty e-mails. If there’s time I would like to do more research on homicide investigations in D.C., to help my latest novel feel more realistic.

So it’s business as usual. Multitasking all the day long. I wonder why so many people think that the writing life is one of relaxed daydreaming. Sleep in late, type a brilliant but brief chapter, then break for afternoon tennis and cocktails before dinner! It’s just not so. The writers I know, and there are many, are all hard workers capable of disciplining themselves to writing every day, setting deadlines for themselves, and doing a dozen other jobs involved in furthering their careers.

If you are considering taking up writing as an easy way to make some money. . .don’t. As challenging as your day job is, writing for a living is just as demanding, if not more so. Yes, you get to stay home. But you still have to do the work. Often the days are long, very long. You will never get a steady paycheck. You will always have more work to do than you can possibly complete before your publisher’s deadlines. Sometimes you’ll despair of selling another article, story or book.

So why do we do it? Why do more and more people want to become published when there’s so little to count on? Because writing always has been and always will be an adventure. The excitement of reading a good book pales beside the thrill of writing a good book.

Do you have what it takes to become a published writer? The answer is inside you. More than talent, it will take the ability to multitask, to be your own boss, to put writing above nearly everything else in your life. If you have all of this inside of you, if you continue striving to learn how to write well, and you are persistent in sending your work out to be considered for publication, you will have a very good chance of reaching your goal.

In upcoming chats I hope to give you more than glimpses into the writing life. I want to show you some specific ways you can improve your writing and make it more marketable, should that be your desire. Meanwhile, take care, write what you love…and be happy,  Kathryn