Sunday, November 18, 2012

Writing Is Like Being A Clown

I remember when I spent the better part of a summer in the backyard learning to juggle. I started with oranges. Two of them. I practiced one-handed juggling. I held both pieces of fruit in one palm. Tossed one up, then the other, caught the first, sent it back up, caught the second, sent it back up, and so on, and so one and so on.

See what I’m saying?

Of course, reading what I did, and doing what I’d done is two different things. It took hours over the course of days to get the rhythm down. Once I did, I moved on. To what, did you ask? Three oranges. Oh yeah. Three. Two hands, though. What I like to call, Real Juggling. I kept two oranges in one hand, one in the other. Coordination was my downfall. I had no problem getting all three oranges in the air. It was catching them with alternating hands that complicated matters.

And where to look.

Did I watch my hands? Or the oranges as they crested the arch? You’d think my hands. But when I watched my hands, I actually dropped the oranges more often. Watching my hands kept me from estimating how high up I’d thrown each orange, and also where. Oh, where the orange goes is very important when juggling.

Not oranges so much.

But what about when I moved onto bigger, more impressive things like knives or chainsaws? Not that I would. But if I did. You know?

With knives or chainsaws, however, watching my hands still seemed as essential as watching the arch … but that is neither here nor there, since, seriously, I don’t own knives sharp enough to matter, and who in their right mind has three chains saws lying around … except for a juggling clown, I guess. Or a lumberjack.

By the end of the summer—don’t laugh—I’d graduated from juggling fruit to Bocce Balls. Sounds a little ludicrous, I know. They were the only things I had more three plus of that weighed the same. (From oranges I didn’t go right to Bocce. I also practiced on tennis and baseballs. Bocce was just the next, I thought, impressive thing to us for practice). While not a clown (or a lumberjack), I must say, for teaching myself, I became a pretty good, just below mediocre semi-average person who could juggle.

Regardless, I still find, when I juggle, that I am oftentimes holding my breath. Only when I know my face is blueberry blue, and I am lightheaded, do I remember to exhale suck in a fresh new breath to hold.

What’s the point?

As a writer, I have many things that need to be written. It’s hard not to catch myself gasping somewhat for air as I struggle with several issues:

--What to work on first?

I have three novel-length manuscripts going simultaneously. All unique from the other.

A zombie, a ghost, and a super-natural P.I. (3rd Nicholas Tartaglia thriller).

In a way, this works. When I hit a wall on one story, I save and close it, and open another. However, if I spend too much time working on one, then when I try to work on one of the others, I need to take time away from writing, and re-read the last chapter written to get back in the flow, and review notes, and characters and timelines. That gets a bit frustrating.

I am anxious to finish all three novels, but find that by having three to finish, less and less appears to get done. I may need to rethink the process. May need to pick one and carry it through to the end. Then the second and finally the last. It makes sense. Like paying off credit cards, I suppose. Pick the one with the smallest balance, and then hammer away it until it’s done.

I guess I should pick the one closest to being finished, and just buckle down and finish writing it.

--Facebooking, blogging and let us not forget, Tweeting

With many of my titles recently released as eBooks, I’ve struggled with marketing and advertising. It was hard enough as a novelist accomplishing these facets of being a published writer. I used to coordinate a ton of book signings and speaking engagements. My current publisher does not use the same distributor as Barnes & Noble, which has made setting up book signing events near impossible, since Barnes & Noble is the biggest chain seller.

I use Facebook, this blog and my Twitter account to continually remind readers that indeed I am an author with novels for sale. Blogging has become essential. Not that I have a ton of followers, but my blog does get a steady amount of hits. (If you are reading this, and do not follow the blog – please, feel free to do so).

Twitter works well, too. Seems every time I post a tweet, with a link to this blog, or to Amazon, I get a handful of new Twitter followers. Which is always appreciated. I haven’t mastered all that can be done with Twitter. I am learning. And, it’s kind of fun. The limited space keeps my editing skills sharp. And hashtags, well, what can I say? Love ‘em.

While my friends-base on Facebook continues to grow, I still find this one of the easiest ways to market and advertise. I use both my personal and author pages to get the job done. The only thing I worry about is overkill. There is a fine line between informing people of your work, as opposed to beating them to death like a brick repeatedly striking their skull.

So yes. In my opinion, writing is a lot like juggling. Makes me feel more like a clown, than I like to admit.

Just like that summer, when I practiced and practiced learning to juggle, I eventually did learn. The more I worked at it, the better I got. I would consider juggling complex. Writing is based on similar principals. The more I write, the better I get. Keeping projects alive and afloat and being able to manipulate them accordingly is essential.

It’s something to watch a juggler. Awe and spectacular.

While my writing is far from awe-inspiring, or spectacular, I do believe I have a skill, and a talent. The ideology I hold to is that, like any skill or talent, continual practice is needed—required, even—to maintain professionalism and interest.

You know what? Leave me a comment, send me an email. Love to hear from you.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Phillip Tomasso

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  1. I wrote the first draft of my first and second novels at the same time. One was a mystery and one was a western. I found the writing stayed fresher than trying to trudge through a manuscript when the words weren't coming.

    1. I agree. At times. But I guess that is both my point and dilemma :)

  2. I am too spastic to juggle myself. And I find myself doing better with one book at a time. Just me...

  3. This sounds curiously like me. I always have more than one project going at a time. I'm always reading more than one book at a time, too. And I agree...the more I write, the better I become. Although I envy your ability to literally juggle. I'd end up with a bocce ball-sized lump on my head.

    1. We have a lot in common K.L. :) However, learning to juggle was fun. Go grab some oranges. I'll wait ... (Next summer ... Unicycle!!)