My wife and I recently purchased our first house. Now that we’re almost settled into the place, I’m hoping to no longer neglect my little blogging experiment! My writing room, minus a few pictures I need to frame, is done. The walls are a nice shade of gray, and I have new leather office chair, which is much more comfortable than the wooden chair I used previously.
On top of moving, I’ve been keeping up with my book work. I’ve nearly finished reading the page proofs for Dark City: Crime in Wartime London, which Ian Allan will publish in the next couple of months (I believe the British release date is Oct. 21). I also continue working on my manuscript for Penguin. Last week, I hit 20,000 words and am hoping to have 90,000 words of a first draft done by March.
I was in my late 20s when I wrote my first book, On the House. Back then, I easily banged out a 1,000 words a day. I worked nights on the copy desk of a Bay Area newspaper and wrote during the day. I had a lot of energy to burn in those days. Now, as I continue the slow and inexorable march towards 40 (I’m on the dark side of 35), writing has become more of a challenge. I still have the passion and drive to do it, but I’m not quite as energetic as I used to be.
I generally sit down to write late in the evening. My day job is in corporate communications, and I need several hours in the evening to decompress and clear the day’s clutter from my brain. My daily goal is 300 to 500 decent words. That might not sound like a lot, but when you’re writing nonfiction and have to sort through pages of primary source material to construct the story, it can take time!
I have two small bookshelves stocked with my favorite authors on either side of my desk. When I feel myself losing momentum, I reach for an Ian Fleming, Fred Vargas, or Steinbeck to get me back in the writing mood. William Manchester is also a personal favorite. His two-volume biography of Churchill, The Last Lion, is astounding and well worth repeated readings. When it came to writing, Manchester was not only brilliant—the guy was a machine. This is from his obituary that ran in The Washington Post on June 2, 2004:
Fueled by yogurt and brief naps in his office, the sinewy Mr. Manchester could withstand 50-hour writing sessions in his heyday.
That’s a man dedicated to the craft! I can only hope to one day possess such fire . . .