Friday, September 5, 2014

We Interrupt This Program....

By Art Taylor

Choice? Calling? This week's question has given me lots to reflect on in terms of my own writing life—taking me initially back to those elementary school writing contests and how excited I felt about them at the time, staying up late with one of my dad's yellow legal pads to write what I thought of as an epic poem. "If I Were an Ace" jumped through several imaginative adventures, each stanza more daring and dangerous than the last, and the whole thing pumped me up so much that I could barely write it fast enough: scribbling furiously, marking out words and replacing them with others in the margin, finally going to bed satisfied with what I'd written only to find my mind racing and retracing, and then there I was jumping back up with a new phrase or two and an extra twist and—

OK, despite my best efforts to stay on track with this week's question, I have to stop and share yesterday's big news: The good folks at Henery Press, an organization I've long admired and respected, have recently sealed the deal to publish my first book, On the Road with Del and Louise: A Novel in Stories, due out in September 2015! I can't express how thrilled I am with the project here—not just the publishing news itself but also the chance to spend more time with a couple of characters I dearly love. Del and Louise first appeared in my story "Rearview Mirror," published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine back in 2010, and the story went on to win a Derringer Award for Best Novelette the following year. I was flattered by the award then; I continue to be touched whenever folks (including Janet Hutchings, my editor at EQMM) tell me that this story remains their favorite of mine; and I'm excited about the prospect that these characters and their adventures will have a longer life ahead in book form. Just hope that others will enjoy it as well!

I promise to hold up on the BSPs for a while as well, but did want to take the news here as an opportunity to reflect back on the question at hand—especially with a deadline now to to finish the last of the stories for Del and Louise. On its best days, writing seems a calling: The imagination conjures up stories, images, characters, situations, details, words, phrases, and it's a rush twice over—first to catch up with all of whatever's spinning out in your head and second to write it down on the page before it gets away. That's the way I felt as a kid, writing just because it felt good and fun. But some days, obviously, stuff doesn't go like that—and it's those days, when the page is blank and the imagination seems to be running dry, when writing becomes a choice: the choice to sit down and push ahead despite everything seemingly working in just the opposite direction against you.

I may have shared this anecdote before, but it's a good one. At a writing conference down in NC many years ago, a woman in the audience stood up and asked Angela Davis-Gardner something along the lines of "What do you do when the muse just doesn't strike?" I was certain that Angela was going to smack her down somehow—writing is hard! it's not about the muse! etc. etc.—but she didn't, and the answer she gave has always stuck with me.

"Sometimes the muse just doesn't come," she said, shrugging. "We all have days like that. But every day I sit down at my desk to work, so the muse will know just where to find me."

And with that in mind, I'm logging out here, and getting back to work. :-)


Meredith Cole said...

Terrific news about your new book, Art! Congrats!

Art Taylor said...

Thanks, Meredith! Sorry to have been late posting today.... :-)

Paul D. Marks said...

Congratulations on the book deal, Art!

Susan O'Brien said...

You know how happy I am about your book, Art! And I identify with what you wrote here. I have always felt called to write. And yet following through can be so challenging.

Art Taylor said...

Thanks, Paul and Susan!