I Resolve To Procrastinate More…

JT Ellison

A quick note of BSP — the kind gentleman from Texas has interviewed me on Murder and Mystery Books 101. Stop by and learn all kinds of blackmailable information.

Now, about that whole procrastination thing…

You may think I’m kidding. I know I should be writing a
nice, happy list of New Year’s resolutions. I should be reflecting on the
craziness that was 2006, and laying out my goals and plans for 2007.

But the past week has been, to sum it up in one word, weird.
We lost James Brown and Gerald Ford. Poor Betty Ford suffered through days and
days of public mourning – he was our President, but he was her husband, and she
has to grieve openly, which really tears me up. Add to that Taps, missing man
flyovers, twenty-one cannon salutes, (I can’t count how many times I’ve mouthed
along to the Lord’s Prayer) and I’m an emotional wreck. Of course, I get teary
at the National Anthem, so you can imagine what the pomp and circumstance
patriotism does to me.

Balance the solemnity of the week with the absurd — Pat
Robertson has declared an imminent calamity
will claims thousands of lives in
September, because God told him so. Saddam had his neck stretched on You Tube
and the cell phone videographer/perpetrator was arrested, who knows what will
happen to him? Yes, I’m guilty of watching. A couple of times, actually. Let’s
just leave it at that.

Then there was the jumper. He deserves his own blog entry, so suffice it to say he’s currently alive and residing in a psychiatric hospital in a coastal Florida town, and we’ll talk about that another time.

On a much happier note, Christmas was lovely. Two presents
especially – my very own engraved iPod Nano to replace my dinky Shuffle, and a
china box in the Limoges fashion my mum gave me that said “Behind Every Good
Woman… Is Herself.” That struck home in many ways. I guess if I have to
reflect, 2006 was the year that I proved myself – to myself.

I had my little freak out on New Year’s Day. Not to be
clichéd, but the train left the station at midnight, and I forgot to get off.
But that’s cool. Being an author is what I’ve planned for, what I’ve worked
for, what I’ve dreamed about. Right?

Top all of this nonsense off with a wicked cold, one of
those where your brain turns to absolute mush. That’s been the weirdness of the
past seven days.

Okay, you’ve caught me. There’s a reason for this…
ambivalence. It’s time to erase my white board and begin writing the next book.

Making the transition between books is always hard for me.
And it seems like I just did that (I guess I did, it was July. Time does fly,
doesn’t it?) I’ve been casting about for a couple of weeks, searching for
something to get me refocused. There’s no more cushion, no taking a month off
to find myself. The bullet must be bitten immediately. I’m actually starting on
the third book before the second is completely finished. As my darling critique
partner JB Thompson will tell you, thinking about multiple projects isn’t
something I’ve mastered.

But I hit upon something yesterday, drew up a list of names,
wrote an elevator pitch, and realized there is light at the end of my weeklong
tunnel. Halleluiah. The procrastination portion of our programming may be at an end.

How about you? Do you have trouble transitioning between
books, or stories? Can you work on multiple projects, or are you like me, more adept at focusing on one thing at a time?

Wine of the Week — A repeat from the past, but we had it for New Year’s Eve’s dinner, Tenute
Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino

Honestly one of the best wines in the world. I plan to stop by the vineyard in April, replenish the stores.


Major congrats to Killer Year member Marcus Sakey, who has pulled off a nice little coup — getting a controversial review from the New York Times — outside the crime fiction section. Marcus is rewriting all the rules for debut authordom. He needs to be watched. I’ll reference Mr. Guyot’s eloquent post from Tuesday — combo platter indeed.



ITW is having a cool new promotion.


27 thoughts on “I Resolve To Procrastinate More…

  1. Iden Ford

    Happy New Year JT. I have taken a long break from reading blogs and posting. I was immeresed in photography school til beginning December and admit that Maureen and I were burned out from travelling to 7 different places over 10 weekends. My brain has been cooking though. And I got the dreaded Norwalk virus from xmas dinner at our Nephew’s place. Took about 10 days to recover. Thanks to Elaine and Pari who fished me back into blogland, it’s nice to know people care how you’re doin, it is a small world when you get into a community like the mystery writers, fans, and friends. Enough about me, let’s talk about you!! One project at a time is how I always operate. I find that by nature I can be so unfocussed, must’ve been my coming of age stuff in the 60’s, so I have worked very hard at creating the habit of trying to reach one goal at a time (must’ve been all the motivational seminars I took in the 90’s). Generally I read one book to read at a time, do one job at a tme, have one relationship at a time (30 years), etc. There is a bit more satisfaction to me knowing that you set a goal and work through everything to get to the finish line with it. Somewhat like climbing a mountain, once you get to the top, you see a whole bloody range of mountains you want to climb, but you gotta come down the one you just climbed before you start up the next one. Of course there are exceptions, my wife was hit a few years ago with a huge inspiration to write a contemporary novel set in Scotland, and at the time, she was about 16 chapters into writing Night’s Child (which went on to 3 award nominations last year). The bug had bit her sooo hard, she had to follow her creative muse so to speak, wrote the book ( Does Your Mother Know featuring Christine Morris forensic profiler), and when done with that, and after having fllown to the Hebrides to authenticate her research, she came back to finish Night’s Child. The time out from the Murdoch book allowed her subconscious to cook and create on the sideline, so when she came back to it, she was happy to be back in Murdoch’s world. The results were terrific for both books. So you cannot always box yourself in with traditional ways of doing things when you are an artiste, you really have to follow your strongest instincts and chase the muse where it takes you. Anyway, Joy, peace, success, and health to you in 2007.Iden

  2. Tasha Alexander

    JT, you need chicken soup. Should I start making it?

    I’m not good at taking on more than one project at a time–although I flirted with the idea for a little while last year. In the end, though, I just put down on paper enough of the second idea so that it wouldn’t be completely forgotten by the time I get around to focusing on it.

    You’re going to have an amazing ’07!

  3. Guyot

    I finally “learned” just this past year how to deal with multiple projects.

    I always sucked at it. If I tried more than one at a time, they both ended up being less than my best effort.

    But Ridley Pearson – the MASTER of multiple projects (I think he has six going right now) – mentored me over many lunches, and that helped a lot.

    But what I realized was the single greatest thing keeping me from being able to write more than one story at a time, was discipline.

    I guest-blogged about it here once. The more disciplined I have become, the easier it has been for me to work on multiple projects.

    Now, I am no Ridley – who can literally stop writing at a certain time, and start working on the next thing. I’m not there. Because I am not as good a writer as he is – I don’t have the command over the craft at this point.

    But what I can do now is juggle creative energies. Right now, I have three projects going, and they are all getting done.

    I go day-to-day. Whichever one I’m feeling when I wake up, that’s the one I work on. What that leads to is working on one thing for two or three days in a row sometimes, but then I’ll spend two or three days on the next thing. And I don’t allow myself to go more than four days without switching.

    It ain’t pretty, but it’s working for me. It also helps that I have no current in-stone deadline. If that were the case, things might be different.

    And I’m very excited! You posted a wine I have never tasted!

  4. pari noskin taichert

    J.T,First of all, GET BETTER! This is the second mondo cold you’ve had in recent memory. Go to sleep, girl. Get some rest.

    As to working on multiple projects:I’m trying this this year. Of course, I’m only five days into it and, so, don’t have a lot to show for the work yet. Ask me in two months.

    Yesterday, I had an aha moment though about the next Sasha book and finally figured out a major plot point. So, the writing won’t drag as much now that I have a slightly better idea where I’m going.

    I’m also going to take Guyot’s advice about not hanging on solely to any project for more than four days without a shift to one of the others. That’s so simple, so sound, and so obvious I hadn’t realized how powerful it could be.

    Will you bring back a bottle for me?

  5. Keith

    I’m getting short stories, novel plotting, little music pieces, and short film promotion done at the same time.

    My secret:

    I’m supposed to be working on a nonfiction proposal.

  6. JT Ellison

    Iden! Welcome back. It’s great to see you here, and hear all your updates. You’ve been busy. Please don’t be a stranger, okay?

    Tasha, I won’t say no to that. Hack.

    Paul, you’re right. It is a matter of discipline, something I’ve realized I have more of that I originally thought. I work all day now, rather than play all day and pretend I’m working. It used to be easy for me to get caught up in the business side of this, and neglect the creative. Now I’m finding I feel lost if I don’t work on the creative, and I’m not nearly as concerned with the business.

    That said, I can work on short stories and a novel and function fine. I’ve never had to work on more than one book at a time until now, and I’m managing that better than I expected. I’d love to hear some more of Mr. Pearson’s advice on the matter. How lucky are you to have been the recipient of all that advice??

    And the wine — be sure you let it breathe for at least an hour. It takes time to open up, but once it does, it’s like drinking liquid gold.

  7. Aldo - Mystery Dawg

    JT, I hope you feel better.

    What is with that Sakey review? I read the book and it rocks? Debut authors can be as good or better than the masters…..this for the public to decide and I think Marcus is off to a great start. He has an excellent voice!

  8. JT Ellison

    Pari, I’ve always admired how you can divest your time between projects. I’m glad you’re doing more Sasha, but I am looking forward to the Baltimore books.

    And the cold is ALL MY BROTHER’S FAULT! (if you’re reading). We were confined with him for four days and the whole family has it now.

    Hi Keith. That sounds like a good plan — in keeping with my vow of procrastination, actually.

    Aldo! Good to see you! Thanks for the wishes, I’m sure I’ll be up and running in no time. Did I see your name attached to a new flash fiction site?

  9. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re sick, sweetie! I would take Tasha up on the chicken soup and post pictures – you could make a fortune! 😉

    Iden, thanks a million for posting that about your wife’s double header with her books – I’m glad to know it can be done that way.

    As a screenwriter I was always working on multiple projects just because I had no control over contractual deadlines – producers can start you on a draft any time they feel like it and it doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of something else – when they say Start, you Start.

    I can’t imagine writing two books at once, yet – I just don’t have the chops. Maybe in a year or two. But it would be nice to have a script or a story going for fun at the same time I’m writing the book. Especially because this one is already KILLING me.

  10. Bryon Quertermous

    If I was more adept at balancing multiple projects, I wouldn’t be just focused on writing this play. I’d be writing the play and working on the novel so I could handily kick Dave’s ass.

    But when I’m working on a novel, I don’t usually have any trouble taking time here and there for short stories or other projects but it’s still usually one thing at a time. I’ve managed to get quite a bit of work done this way so I’m hesitant to change anything.

  11. JT Ellison

    Bryon, I think as we mature as writers it may be easier to spread our creative genius out over multiple projects. I’m with you, I believe. If it’s working, why fix it?

    And does that play have a steak dinner attached????

    Alex, you’re right, pictures like that would be a goldmine ;)I’ll live. Maybe. In the meantime, I’d love to hear more about the differences between writing a book and writing a screenplay. What kind of mindset goes in to both. That seems like a good big blog topic, too, if you’d rather. xo

  12. Louiseure

    JT, I’m a one-project-at-a-time gal, too.

    And I have just the wine to help you start your new project: Clean Slate, a Riesling from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region.

    Time to start anew.

  13. billie

    Hey JT… I am one of those people who HAVE to have more than one iron in the fire. Not that I actively work on two books at once, but I have to have things lined up or I get frantic.

    Once I get a good draft, the ONLY way I can let it sit w/o constantly reworking it is to have ANOTHER one to leap into.

    Right now I am juggling three of them. And I have more in the pipeline. Some of this will abate when they start getting published and I can let them go.

    Feel better.

    Here’s my secret remedy for colds, coughs, sore throats, and tummy ailments:

    Take a fresh ginger root and slice a good handful of thin slices. Measure enough water for a mug or two of tea plus a bit extra into a small saucepan and boil the ginger slices for at least 10 minutes.

    I boil for 15 minutes b/c I like it really ginger-y. The longer you boil, the spicier it gets.

    Pour into mug with lemon and honey to taste.

    It will kick the butt of almost anything upper respiratory and also does wonders for stomach issues.


  14. Aldo - Mystery Dawg

    Yep, its a new flash site I started for those with withdrawls from the most excellent Flashing in the Gutters. It’s called Powder Burn flash and can be reached at http;//powderburnflash.blogspot.com

  15. Stephen Blackmoore

    You can’t be sick. It’s 2007. Your debut year. Debut authors aren’t allowed to get sick in their first year. It’s one of the bylaws.

    I’m still learning how to get through one project. That said, I have to take a break with short stories or I’ll get sketchy. I’m too ADD to focus on only one thing.

    Get better. Drink lots of hot toddies and Tasha’s chicken soup.

  16. JT Ellison

    A rather inauspicious beginning, eh Stephen?I made it through New Year’s Eve dinner, finished that glass of fabulous wine and prompty fell ill. Wah.

    Aldo, I’ll check it out. Excellent of you to help fill the void.

  17. Lonnie Cruse

    J.T. soooo it was you who gave me MY cold? That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Try pizza. Trust me, it works far better than chicken soup AND tastes better. Good luck in your Killer Year! Hope to see you next Tuesday night. And drag J. B. along with you. Snicker.

  18. Elaine Flinn

    Late to the party, J.T. – been out shopping. Try a good old hot toddy -works every time (I told you about this last time you got sick, remember?).

    Multi-tasking? What’s that?

  19. spyscribbler

    JT, I hope things perk up for you! Good luck with diving into multiple projects.

    I cleared my platter for January to write the Big N. Talk about self-defeating behaviors, but what do I do but write my editor and ask her what she needs? Now I’m multi-projecting a novella, a mini-novella, and a novel. Crazy, crazy, crazy.

    But I think I need the comfort of multiple projects. I need that pile of stuff to do glaring at me, so I’ll keep typing away and pushing it out. Plus, when one stalls, you can start jumping back and forth. No more writer’s block!

  20. Kristy

    Chicken soup? Ginger? Toddies? PIZZA?!

    JT, darling, the only cure is a venti chai latte and CHOCOLATE!

    Feel better, we need you multi-tasking this year, making the rest of us feel lazy and unproductive!


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