Daily life: Jo/e's surgery, a library booksale, and a change in my writing lifestyle | #writerslife

Thanks to my new job, I'm going to be online more often, so I'm switching to weekly, more bite-sized Daily Life entries.


A bit of a side story in Dungeon Guards, "Follow the Leader." I'm having a hard time establishing a new writing schedule.


"Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Belles on Their Toes," by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey - old favorites.

"Karen" and "With Love from Karen," by Marie Killilea - also old favorites.

"Historical Novels Review," a magazine from the Historical Novels Society, which I joined this summer.


My apprentice Jo/e is scheduled for hernia surgery this week. He is in a lot of pain and is very worried about the surgery. (Last time that he had surgery, about a quarter century ago, he had an asthma attack on the operating table.) He has been alternating between assuring me that improved medical conditions make surgery quite safe for him now and telling me that he wants to live in agony for the rest of his life, rather than go through with a surgery that is sure to kill him. I seem to recall that my state of mind before my skull surgery was about the same.

My own health has continued to be not so hot, but in the midst of three weeks of torture from a thrown back (which is well now), I managed to get several hundred books out of the apartment and donated to the library booksale, with the help of some exceedingly overworked Boy Scouts.

And I only bought two suitcases' worth of books at the sale!

In my defense, one of the suitcases was filled with six fat volumes of bound collections of nineteenth-century magazines: three volumes of Scribner's magazines from the 1880s and three volumes of Century magazines from the 1890s. Total cost to me: $8. One of the advantages of living in a town with half a dozen antique stores is that amazing finds like this turn up at library booksales.

I also spent last week preparing for my new job: I'll be working as a historical researcher for other writers, a job I did some years ago. I'd hoped to get my business launched at the end of this summer (i.e. before Labor Day), but my health decided otherwise.

What the new job means is that I'm no longer a full-time writer. I had twenty-four years at that job, which is twenty-four more years than most fiction writers get to be full time. During those twenty-four years, I wrote 3,328,715 words of fiction and heaven knows how many words of nonfiction. Not as much fiction as I'd like (considering I was full-time, I should have been able to manage more than an average of 138,697 words a year), but still a respectable output, amounting to about thirty-three novels of 100,000 words each.

(In case you're counting on your fingers: Not all of those words have been published yet, and some belong to permanently abandoned projects.)

Now, for the first time since my twenties, I'm going to have to sneak time for writing out of more time-intensive occupations: my day job and my homemaking. At the moment, I'm not trying to do anything more than figure out how to compose stories under my new schedule. Editing and layout are entirely off my agenda this fall, for the simple reason that the rest of my life is in chaos. The apartment is still in a state of utter clutter, I fell badly behind on housework this summer because I was sick, and I'm desperately trying to get my historical research business launched and bringing in steady money before my savings run out (which they're well on the way to doing). And then there's the health issues: I'll be having bunion surgery as soon as Jo/e is well enough from his surgery to care for me.

Thank goodness I have a ton of stories in my backlist to post to AO3. I won't run out of those any time soon.


June 2018



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