“Disorder and Disarray”…or “On Writing”

Trying to be a writer is a messy business. No matter how much I try and compartmentalize, focus, and organize my efforts, there are always loose ends dangling everywhere.

I’m less than a week away from finishing my publisher-requested revisions for “Chicago Rocked.” I’ve now added to, subtracted from, and scrutinized that manuscript beyond the point of productivity. I’m bringing the document to “Lead Poets Society” this week in the hopes that being around creative people will inspire me to put the finishing touches on it. “Lead Poets Society” is a weekly meeting of Chicago-based comics pros and enthusiasts at an Andersonville bar where everyone just sits around and…draws. I’m cheating by using my pen for other means, but they really don’t need to see me draw.

I recently got a harebrained idea for another non-fiction book. I spent a fair amount of time working up a proposal for it, and it finally went out yesterday. I’ll probably know if it’s a “yea” or “nay” by the end of Spring.

Of course if that doesn’t work out, I have not one but two different fiction ideas in varying stages of creation. One is a radically rewritten version of my first fiction book idea. I have about 200 pages written for that, which I return to every month or so. The other is an idea that I’ve had in my head forever that I’ve only been able to crank out about 30 or 40 pages for to date. I’m never in much of a hurry to go back to either, but they’re always there waiting for me.

And then there’s the idea of freelancing, which is the toughest racket in the world. Before I got my book deal I was obsessed with trying to get freelance work–and it paid off to some extent. As I sit here in a radio studio, sleepless at 4:30 in the morning with a deadline looming and other life responsibilities to accommodate, the thought of brainstorming ideas to pitch to various publications is about as appealing to me as eating glass. And yet, I’ll probably start the humiliating process again by summer.

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