Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Another little piece of my Cathy Ace

Life: Does your writing ever interfere with your family life? Do the demands of your fiction ever create friction with those closest to you?

BEAR IN MIND AS YOU READ...I don't mean to moan. I'm just answering the question as honestly as I can. I know authors who (somehow!) manage to write three excellent books each year...they regularly win awards and top the bestseller lists and maintain that all-important media profile publishers want. I honestly don't know how they do it all; I am in awe of them! Strength to their arms...and fingers...and souls. I have rewritten this post several times. But now I have to step away. 

Simply put, the answer to both questions asked is “Yes”.

Also simply put, I know in my heart that the answer to both questions should be “No”.

Oh look, conflict! As a crime writer that should make me happy. It doesn’t.

Here’s the thing…my first novel, the first Cait Morgan Mystery entitled THE CORPSE WITH THE SILVER TONGUE, was published in March 2012. By the time it was in print I had already signed a contract to write the second Cait Morgan Mystery, THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE. By the time that came out in March 2013 I had already finished the third in the series and was contracted to write the fourth…and so on, until I had contracts in place to write three novels per year across two series during 2015-2018. I was also Vice Chair of Crime Writers of Canada for 2014-2016, then Chair from 2016-2018. By the time I stepped down to become past-Chair of CWC in May 2018 I had given the organisation and its members the best effort I could muster, had twelve novels published...and was completely exhausted. But lucky to have been given all the opportunities I had been, so that I could do all that I had done.

I hadn’t had a single day when I hadn’t worked (in some way or another) for six years, and that work had become a source of friction when it involved seemingly endless emails, responses to queries or publisher needs etc. during so-called “vacations” or “family time”. And, even when the friction was only in my head, I felt guilty all the time...I constantly felt I wasn't doing enough for anyone. It turned out I was doing nothing at all for myself! I wasn't the healthiest version of myself during the latter part of 2018, so I had to address that. Something had to change...

Something had changed already – my husband had put off retirement for a couple of years so I would have the resources I needed to support my writing career (not just the writing, but all the other work that accompanies it in terms of volunteering my time to be involved with Crime Writers of Canada, attending several conventions each year, doing all the promotional work required etc.). I still think that's incredible. He'd kept going for years, so I could do the same. But he’d finally packed it in for good in March 2018. It was time. That meant he was no longer leaving the house at 5.30am, returning by about 8.30pm, and he and I both realized that my pace of work couldn’t continue as it had because I was the one keeping us apart by continuing to work long hours.

So...change was needed. Because life is about more than work.

BUT...I had a book that I desperately needed to write. It was burning a hole in my soul. It had to come out of me.

So, in early 2018, my husband and I agreed I would make the biggest push ever – I would get the book written (The Wrong Boy), and promote it the best that I could. We incorporated, since I’d decided (after some poor experiences with publishers/agents) that I would self-publish it, and we planned how and when it would be released and promoted. I was lucky – I had money from a personal pension plan I’d set up in the UK back in the 1980s to be able to invest in launching the book and supporting it in the marketplace.

I am happier now that I don’t let work steal me away from my husband as much as it once did. I have also now used the rest of that pension money to buy back all my rights to the Cait Morgan Mysteries (except English print rights) and to be able to support the digital relaunch of that series. Oh, and The Wrong Boy has achieved super sales (even reaching the top 10 on the amazon charts - paid-for sales - in four countries, and #1 in one), and has won a couple of awards...PHEW! 

I know I have another story wriggling around my head that I MUST tell, and I will be doing that, but I have promised us that I won’t aim to publish that book until late 2020, which means we’ll both have some time for us to get used to “being together” without my writing, (or all the other, necessary, work that goes hand-in-hand with that) treading too hard on the toes of our relationship and time with each other and the family. 

It’s taking some getting used to – we’re two workaholics both trying to support each other in recovery. I’ll let you know how it goes a year from now. (I should confess that I am doing my final edits to this piece while Husband takes a nap, as we cruise in the Caribbean...maybe I need help - or a piña colada?)

Meanwhile, if you haven’t considered reading my work, maybe I can beg you to do so? I’ve put a lot into it, and it continues to be my passion. CLICK HERE to get to my website where you can find out all about it.


Paul D. Marks said...

It sounds like you've reached a good balance, Cathy. I wish I could get there. Maybe some day.

Cathy Ace said...

It's the best balance I have felt for a long time. Perspective. Balance. Appreciating everything in moderation. Not that moderation is something I am naturally good at 😁

Allan J. Emerson said...

As a natural slacker, I've always been astonished at the pace you keep. Glad to see you're planning to take it a (little) easier. :)

Cathy Ace said...'re nothing like a natural slacker! And, yes, I am "planning" on taking it a little easier :-)

James Ziskin said...

Great post, Cathy. Honest and sincere..


Susan C Shea said...

I hear you, Cathy. I had that hectic lifestyle when I was working at my previous career. It's great that you've found some space to refresh and to be with your husband more fully in your new schedule. Cheers!