The problem with being a writer? You must do plenty of things other than writing. I have to keep up with my social media. (I need to make the most of Twitter before Elon Musk turns it into another one of his ego strokes). I must keep track of my promotional efforts. Take advantage of the lull between COVID variants to participate in author events. I also serve as a judge in a book contest. And I have to fit those into my full-time job and all my responsibilities at home.
It’s not surprising my work-in-progress Christina’s Portrait has been sitting on my hard drive for months.
The successful authors I know are always getting new books out. You can’t sell books you haven’t published, and you can only promote a backlist book for so long. The best way to sell older books is to write new ones. This is true for Christina’s Portrait because it is a sequel and prequel for Amiga and is part of the same Resedaverse as The Remainders.
What do I have left to do?
First, I have several research tasks in the Valley. I’ve been waiting until Los Angeles County is less infectious before going. Now I have a small window when I can go. Not only do I have to worry about another pandemic surge and nuclear war, Reseda Charter High School is having a major and overdue remodeling. This is the last time I may be able to visualize Reseda High School the way it was in the 1970s.
Second, I feel there are things missing from the story. My current word count is 62,000. I want my novels to be at least 70,000, even for a YA audience. My main character has aspects of her personality I haven’t explored, including the relationships with her father and brother. I also want to explore her struggles with her sexuality. As I’ve reached 60, I’ve been thinking about my physical and emotional development in the 60s and 70s. How we didn’t feel we could talk to our parents about our changing bodies and growing emotions. And how today, legislators and school boards across the country want us to go back to those repressive times. I want to show the damage it can do, even to children they would consider “normal.”
Although the book is set in the fall of 2021, I can’t help but be influenced by the events that happened since. I can hint at things to come in the story. For example, my character Magdelena Barchevsky runs Mamá Freida’s restaurant in The Remainders and made an appearance in Amiga. I decided her family originally came from Lviv. There are ways I can weave Ukraine into my book. I already assume it will get banned in Russia and several US states.
It’s easy to get lost in the periphery of writing. Social media, promotion, connection building, and service to the writing community are all important. But you have to write the damn books. They are the main way we connect with our audiences. It’s time for me to get back to work.