Okay, I have to confess to being slightly frustrated by being on the bus and unable to write. Boredom is a relatively unfamiliar concept to a reader: as long as we have a book (and it doesn’t even have to be a terribly good book, although it obviously helps if it is) we can endure a great deal. Similarly, the frustration of being unable to write is not something with which I’m familiar. I can get frustrated WHILE writing, which is a different matter, and I don’t know what writer’s block is (I think that’s different for every writer who suffers from it), but to be prevented from writing by one’s environment (in this case the rolling, seasick-inducing motion of a long bus journey) makes me want to gnaw my arm off. So yesterday was bad as we had about six or seven hours on the bus, divided into two journeys of about two and a half hours and four and a half hours respectively. Today is rather worse, as I’m sitting on the bus just as we’re about to embark on a six and a half hour trip. Goodbye, Buffalo. Hello – eventually – Ohio.
On the other hand, I suppose the tour comes at a pretty good time as far as writing is concerned, if there can ever be a good time to be unable to write. THE WRATH OF ANGELS, the Charlie Parker novel due for publication in September, was delivered in March, and my British editor, who tends to read my manuscripts sooner than my American editor (possibly because she loves me more, although far be it from me to incite my editors to compete for my affections, even if it would be nice if they did), put it straight into production. This means that any queries she had were minor, and could be dealt with after the manuscript had been copy-edited. It’s a bit like submitting your homework to teacher and getting it back without a note ordering you to write out each of your mistakes ten times until you grasp the importance of coherent sentences. Secretly, we all expect to hear the words “The start is good, and the end is good, but pages 12-340 will have to go…”
Meanwhile, by the time I left Dublin some 80 of the essays for the BOOKS TO DIE FOR anthology, in which the world’s finest mystery writers discuss the mystery novels they would add to the canon, and which is also due for publication in September or October, had been received and edited by my co-editor, Declan Burke, and me. Given that the deadline for receiving essays was March 31st (and, in many cases, made a pleasant whizzing noise as it shot past the ears of putative contributors), and the deadline for the submission of the completed manuscript to our publishers is April 30th, it’s just as well that the lion’s share of the work had been done before I departed, but it still leaves only 10 days to edit the late essays, ensure all of the contributor and subject bios are present and correct, and do one final read through to satisfy my control freak urges.
What next? Well, there’s another collaborative project at which I haven’t looked since November, but which I’m now anxious to tackle with a view to letting my editors see it before the summer. Oh, and I’d started writing a short story, more or less to pass the time between submitting THE WRATH OF ANGELS and starting another novel in earnest, but that grew from a short story into a long story, and from a long story into a novella. It’s now on my laptop and needs about three or four thousand words to bring it to a close, but I can’t write them because I’m about to get on the bus again, and I’ve been writing to you instead of finishing the tale that I had to tell.
Sigh. I really wish I could write on a bus.
Oh well. Raymond Chandler used to say that when he wasn’t writing, he was thinking about writing. I guess I now just have even more time to think about writing…