Monday, August 3, 2009

Do I have criminal habits?

I have some habits that would be considered criminal in writer’s court, punishable by not getting as much writing done as I think I should. Here are the top 5, in reverse order. Try not to be too shocked.

5. Bitching about promotion. I hate it. We all hate it (except for Kelli, but I forgive her because she’s so darn nice when I complain about it). So, maybe I could just shut up about it. Enough said.

4. Remembering only the bad reviews. I got almost uniformly great reviews for A TRACE OF SMOKE, including starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, and Library Journal. Do I remember quotes from them? No. But I can recite all the damning bits from the ‘mixed’ New York Times review. Obviously, this is a trend that must be reversed. I must set about memorizing the good reviews and blurbs and become positively insufferable.

3. Not backing things up. I do back up my work daily. But not my iPhone. Not when I’m traveling. This one ranks so high because a couple of gallons of the Chesapeake Bay killed my iPhone with all my pictures from my New York tour on it. I should have known better. I did know better. And I got punished for it. So, now I back up daily. If I remember.

2. Over-researching. I write historical mysteries, so I have to do a lot of research. But I overdo it because it’s just plain fascinating. I find out tons of things I don’t really need to know to finish the book. For example, I have a scene with Hitler in it in A NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES. I read tons of diary entries of people who were at that event, bits from the Nuremberg trial, historical analyses, etc. I compiled them all and picked out what I needed for my scene. That should have been enough. But I kept going. I call it the “what would Hitler smoke?” syndrome. He’s not smoking in the scene, so I don’t need to know it. But I do. In fact, that’s a trick question. Hitler was a nonsmoker. (hey, I did get to use that bit of research somewhere!)

1. Spending too much time on the Internet. Sure, I can pretend that some of it’s promotion and some of it even is, but I think I’d get a lot more done if I moved to a remote island with no Internet connectivity. Wait, I do live on a remote island. If I just disabled my wireless connection…

What are your writer’s crimes? Reader’s crimes?


Robyn Eastman said...

GREAT blog entry, Rebecca. As a writer I can totally commiserate with you!!! Especially the research thing... I believe that all those 'extras' you go for will pay off because it always makes the writing so much richer!!!!!

What island do you live on?

Rock on...

Jen Forbus said...

I have a horrible reader's crime. I buy much faster than I read. And now that people are sending me books to review for the blog, I "accumulate" much faster than I read. Someday I swear I'm going to read every last one of them. I refuse to get rid of ones I haven't read, but I'm going to need to move to a bigger house to hold all of them soon.

I'm also slow. I read slow, I review slow...luckily my typing skills are quick, but I analyze and re-analyze every review. I re-read and re-format every post. If only I could spew 'em out faster maybe I could get more read! ;)

Fun post Rebecca! Thanks! :)

Kelli Stanley said...

Actually, babe, nobody likes promotion ... what I like is talking to people!! :) I like connecting to readers, discussing books, and that's what social networks and blogs and conferences are all about.

Consider it human research, you research over-achiever, you! ;)



Unknown said...

Thanks for making me feel better about my writer's crimes...

I am currently on internet restriction at home because I deep-ended on Black Dahlia murder (which isn't really related to current book or short story!). I couldn't find anything saying why they cleared her father Celo, who lived very close to the dump site.

It's a simple question, but I can't spend another day looking for the answer ;)

The new rule is, no t.v. or internet until AFTER the day's writing is done. So far (two days) it's working :)


Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks for commenting, Robyn! I like the idea that over-researching is a good thing. It's not a bad habit at all. It's a good one. That's the ticket... :)

I live on the Big Island of Hawaii. Everything is expensive, but not counting that, I love it here.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Hiya Jen! I don't think buying too much can be considered a flaw, at least not from a writer's point of view. :) That said, the pile of books my bed is getting embarassing. I think I'm going to need a ladder to climb into bed soon.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Kelli: Human research? There's an idea. Talking, and then performing experiments on them...rubbing hands together...oh, wait, where was I?

You're so darn gracious, you just don't know what introversion lurks in the hearts of others. Terrible to see, it is.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Good to see you, Mysti! Sad that we all that writer's crimes though, isn't it? Two days is two days. It's all one day at a time.

My local coffee shop just started charging for Internet and with an iphone and Internet at home it seems crazy to pay for a third source, so I think that might let me eke out a few more Internet-free writing hours.
Hopefully, cheap will win out.

Kelli Stanley said...

Becks, you're the most charming introvert I know. :) And pretty darn gracious!

Thanks for the compliment, sweets--but I just think everyone we encounter in life can enrich our ability to understand people--and hopefully write them. So it is research, of a kind ... that's not to say I want to social network with any Nazis (you know I get nightmares) ... :)



CJ Lyons said...

Great post, Becky! And hugs on losing the iPhone!

I agree with Jen, I can't keep up with reading, am only just now getting to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Book of Lies, both of which I bought the day they came out....yeah, stop laughing all you folks who actually have time to read!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Kelli: You are always right about people, and I do like people. Just not in big piles all the time for days and days. I do have the introvert under control enough to play an extrovert on TV (well, not quite TV, but you get the idea). Re: the Nazi nightmares. You need to get some tall brown boots and a yellow scarf so you can become a member of the French resistance. But don't start smoking.

CJ: Remember the days before we were published, when we could actually just read any darn old book we wanted? Now I have so much eat-your-vegetables required reading that sitting down with a book just because I want to is a distant memory. If it's any comfort, I haven't gotten to the Stiegg Larssen either. It's been on my TBR list though, so let me know what you think.

Leslie said...

Well I guess I'm in good company, criminally speaking, since I share most of the crimes mentioned!

The internet is the worst! I get sucked in and disappear for days... just reading Mysti's post makes me want to look into the answer, inquiring minds wanna know!

I have my home wireless locked down, need password and the MAC address, so I just never entered the one for my new laptop. I have to walk to the desk and physically plug it into the net. This is a lot more inconvenient than just typing, so it helps limit a bit... as long as I take my hands off the keyboard step away from the desktop in the first place!

I used to watch too much TV, not as much as most but wasted too much time and never could seem to cut back. Until that last big spring storm. The power cycled several times and by the time I unplugged the computers and got downstairs the TV was fried.

I always thought those people without TVs were kind of strange, but I decided to try it for awhile... haven't missed it at all, so I'm one of those weird people without a TV... well without a working TV. Now I refer to it as my objet d'art.

Oddly, I haven't seemed to gain appreciably in spare time... I blame the internet and books… don’t think I’ll be able to eliminate them… and the books are winning, I’m way behind on bookcases!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Good to see you here, Leslie. Sorry to hear about the Internet addiction. It is just so darn entertaining in cyberspace, it's tough to leave.

I unhooked the TV from anything but the TV and VCR when my son was little. Haven't missed it. I don't know HOW the average person finds time to watch their weekly 20 hours of TV, plus all their time on the Internet. I guess they all don't sleep or something.

I like the idea of having an Internet-free computer. That trick might work...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Good to see you here, Leslie. Sorry to hear about the Internet addiction. It is just so darn entertaining in cyberspace, it's tough to leave.

I unhooked the TV from anything but the TV and VCR when my son was little. Haven't missed it. I don't know HOW the average person finds time to watch their weekly 20 hours of TV, plus all their time on the Internet. I guess they all don't sleep or something.

I like the idea of having an Internet-free computer. That trick might work...

Shane Gericke said...

Jen, you said buying too fast is a crime. It isn't, I swear it isn't. Especially if they're our books :-)

Rebecca, you can't do too much research, I believe. It's just so ... cool. I read Jim Rollins' AMAZON not long ago, and was fascinated by how the killer shrunk the heads of her victims. That led me from his book to the Net, to shrunken heads. Just fascinating. And of course, to not waste research, the blog item of a few weeks back. Triple crown!

And Mysti, we gotta hear more about your obsession with the Black Dahlia. Come on, we won't tell anyone, we swear. Except maybe CJ's cougar, we could tell her . . .

Leslie said...

I was truly amazed at how little I miss TV. The first month I think I averaged an hour a week watching shows over the internet... that has gone down since then.

I'm also saving by dropping my Satellite TV! I do miss the Satellite music channels, but not $50 a month's worth ;-)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Shane, thanks for giving me permission to do more research! Of course, Rollins is one of the proponents of not researching forever and a day.

Re: Black Dahlia. I hated to ask. I knew the answer would probably lead me down a black hole of research about a topic I don't even write about. But now that you brought it up, Shane, what's the deal Mysti?

Leslie: I missed TV for the first few weeks. Now I'm happy to Netflix stuff. Somehow, though, I still don't have more free time, although it did free me up enough to write novels, so maybe that is where all that time went.

Leslie said...


Now that I've finished your book I can say with great certainty, it was time well spent!

I hope to put my former TV time to equally good use!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Leslie! And you could use that time to...write a book. :)