In the Mood (Writing Rituals)
I guess I can best describe what it takes to get me to sit down and write, by referencing the late Glenn Miller’s 1940 big-band hit. I have to be “In the Mood.” I have read dozens of books that established authors have written, describing their writing processes.
“Stick to a schedule-First thing in the morning-Force yourself to write for two hours-Write until you have ten new pages.”
While not knocking that advice, knowing that it works for thousands of writers, I found in penning my first novel, Bronx Justice, those words of wisdom fell on deaf ears. Try as I might, my muse did not join me on these scheduled sessions. Lighting a candle, listening to classical music, doing some meditation. No help.
I believe that a big part of that problem was that I had no deadline to finish the book. Hard as it may be to believe, the major publishing houses were not besieging me with phone calls, e-mails, knocks on my door, asking when this great American novel would be completed.
When friends, who knew I was working on the book would ask, “When will you be finished?”
I would answer, “May.”
“This coming May?”
“No, I May finish before I die.”
One very positive blessing I had in completing the book was to meet Vincent Lardo, a writer with six New York Times Best Sellers to his credit. Vincent urged me to join the Ashawagh Hall Writers Workshop, a very prestigious Long Island, New York, writers group, led by renowned author, Marijane Meaker, who published under the pen-name M.E. Kerr.
Marijane’s lists of literary awards are too numerous to mention. She was an inspiration to this first-time author, without doubt, helping me drag Bronx Justice to the finish line.
The number one reason this happened? DEADLINES. Marijane, who was in her mid-80s, at the time, would look at her schedule book, peer over her granny-glasses.
“Bob, November fifth, you’re reading. I want twelve new pages.” No if, ands or buts. If one wanted to stay in this elite group, one came in with the twelve new pages. This process worked for me. I had been working haphazardly on the book for almost eight years. Sometimes, it sat in a drawer, untouched, for many months. Now, with Marijane’s pushing, and inspired by the great writers in the group, most of them published authors, I had a goal. No longer a dream-I was going to finish my book.
Now is when the Glenn Miller tune really kicked in. When I got “In the Mood,” I would write for many hours at a clip.
My wife would knock on my study door. “Dinner will be ready in twenty-minutes.”
“Babe, I’m in the zone. Can we make it an hour?”
Usually, the answer was “Yes.” If not, “I’ll leave it out. You can microwave it when you’re done, Mr. Hemingway.”
I would share with those who participate in writers’ groups, the words that Marijane often used when delivering a critique.
“I don’t like that. (word/sentence/paragraph.) But, that’s just my opinion. Your name’s
going to be on the book’s cover.”
So, while advice from others is extremely helpful, in the end, it’s your book.
Hope you get “In the Mood,” and write it!
Bob Martin served the NYPD for 32 years in a wide variety of commands. These include the fabled Tactical Patrol Force (TPF), the Street Crime Unit, Mounted Unit, the 72nd, 69th, 6th Precincts, Queens and Bronx Detectives, and finally as the CO of the Special Investigations Division. Martin was a charter member and played for a dozen years with the NYPD’s Finest Football Team. He served for twelve years on the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) “ Committee on Terrorism” and traveled extensively, in this country and abroad, speaking on the subject. He retired as a Deputy Inspector in 2000 and began writing. In 2004, he led a law enforcement mission to Israel. His stories have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. Bronx Justice, based on an actual case, is his first novel.