Since the beginning of the year, I have read submissions to Groovy Gumshoes: Private Eyes in the Psychedelic Sixties, Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 3, and the special cozy issue of Black Cat Mystery Magazine.
I then read, in quick succession, Sara Paretsky’s Brush Back, John Sandford’s Gathering Prey, and John Grisham’s Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer.
When I finished them, I started reading the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which contains work from a significant number of SleuthSayers.
What I didn’t do is write.
That’s almost four months without finishing a new short story, a significant productivity gap considering I’ve had year-long stretches when I produced at least a story a week.
This weekend—only a few days before this post appears—I began writing again. Though I’ve not yet finished anything in my two days back at the keyboard, I’ve made progress on a trio of stories.
STOP ME IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS BEFORE
Write every day.
I’ve seen this advice repeated ad nauseam, and it’s good advice. Some writers need this structure in order to be productive, and other writers use it as a way to build a wall between them and their other responsibilities. (“I can’t do that now, this is my scheduled writing time!”)
But writing every day isn’t the only approach to productivity. Over the years I’ve had many writing gaps lasting from a few days to a few weeks. Sometimes real life demands our attention elsewhere, whether it’s a health issue, a family emergency, mandatory overtime at the day job, or a weather-related incident. And stepping away from the keyboard can be—when done by choice—a way to recharge one’s batteries and return to writing refreshed
In my case, time away was the result of a combination of things: a Snowpocalypse, editing responsibilities, and a week or so of binge reading to cleanse my literary palate.
I have returned refreshed, but I see another writing gap in the near future: All those stories I accepted for Groovy Gumshoes, Mickey Finn, and Black Cat need to be edited and prepared for publication.
With any luck, I can squeeze in a good bit of writing before the next pause.
April has been filled with good news:
“Last Waltz Across Texas” appears in the May/June Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.
“Soiled Dove” appears in Crimeucopia: We’re All Animals Under the Skin.
“The Downeaster ‘Alexa’” appears in Only the Good Die Young: Crime Fiction Inspired by the songs of Billy Joel (Untreed Reads), edited by Josh Pachter.Jukes & Tonks (Down & Out Books), edited by Gary Phillips and me. The anthology, which released Monday, April 19, appeared on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list that day (the Kindle edition at #65 and the paperback edition at #67), dropped off, and reappeared the next day (Kindle edition at #29 and the paperback edition at #36).
And the ITW Thriller Award nominees were announced. Two stories from Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir, vol. 1 (Down & Out Books), which I edited, were nominated for Best Short Story: Alan Orloff’s “Rent Due” and Andrew Welsh-Huggins’s “The Mailman.”