Obsessive

Bad News: Nothing to report on the writing front today. I’m caught up in the midst of the pre-Thanksgiving overhaul of the house.

Good News: My writing desk is cleaner than it has been in ages and hopefully I can keep it that way. I tend to neglect things like that in the middle of a big project.

It could be worse. I could be like Michael Crichton. When he gets into the home stretch of a novel, he becomes so focused that he eats only to keep himself going, not particularly caring what it is he eats. I once saw an interview with him where he said that he lives for days on peanut butter when he gets on a roll.

I can get pretty focused when I’m on the way to finishing a book, and I might get that obsessed on Last Writing Day. I don’t do it for days on end like Crichton, though.

Incidentally, Crichton’s book The Andromeda Strain was responsible for me deciding to be a writer. I read it for the first time as an eager twelve year-old and was completely blown away by it. When I finished reading it for the first time I remember saying, “Wow! I want to write books just like this!”

I’m still working on getting there.

One more Crichton connection for you. Both The Andromeda Strain and my first (published) novel (A Death of Honor) were originally throwaway ideas.

In Crichton’s case, he wanted to do a book following five patients through the medical system (called, of course Five Patients). His editor, however, said that he should put out another novel under his own name first before going ahead with the big project. He had financed his way through med school by writing pseudonymous scientific thrillers, and his next such project was going to be Andromeda. So he put it out under his own name, and the rest is history.

In my case, I was busy writing a novel about a space merchant’s career gone bad when I got a call from an old high school friend. She wanted to get a bunch of people together and do a “pass around novel,” which circulates between writers until the book is done. I told her to count me in, and I even volunteered to write the first chapter, which I did.

Well, my friend sat on the chapter until my space epic was finished and in the mail. She had become busy with her newborn and all the complications entailed by same. Meantime, that first chapter kept bugging me, and I figured out what to do with the rest of the book. Yes, it was a classic case of Chestbuster Stage. So I called my friend and got the chapter back from her. In my case, the rest was almost history. It did become my first published novel, but it didn’t quite perform as well as The Andromeda Strain.

Over the years, I think I’ve found my voice. Watch out, Mr. Crichton. I’m chasing you.

Oh, and thanks for inspiring me to try out this racket in the first place.

NP – Lene Lovich, Stateless

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