First Cup of Coffee – October 18, 2022

Building a writing habit and incremental work – when it does and doesn’t work for people. Also an update on loading my audiobooks on YouTube and thoughts on three decades in publishing.

First Cup of Coffee – April 26, 2022

Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

Superb today is Tuesday April Twenty Sixth I’m indoors again. It’s cold. It’s only like um well now it’s up to 45°f and there’s a cold wind blowing. So indoors after this do I keep saying this to feel like I keep saying it to David after this, it’s supposed to warm up. Although maybe we’re supposed to get a big thunderstorm tomorrow afternoon wouldn’t that be nice.

Um, so um, things are feel like they’re going well knock on wood knock on real wood. The book is progressing nicely I I don’t think I mentioned but I have. Upped my word count slightly to going for 2500 words a day and seeing how sustainable that is um, for those of you who have not been keeping avid track of everything that I do. Um, I finally had decided that what I’d been saying for so long that I write 3000 words a day five days a week was actually a lie and that I don’t write that much on a consistent basis and that maybe it was. Over time draining draining the creative well and leaving me feeling brain dead tired and sneezy hold on a moment. Didn’t want to sneeze in your ears. So. I’d looked back to see what my actual average was and it does work out to more like 2000 words a day five days a week 10000 words a week more or less and some of you gave me very interesting feedback saying that for you it varies it goes up and down. And I know some writers do it this way you know like you have your your big heavy weeks that do really well um, you know, maybe you get a 5000 word day and then the next a 1000 word day and some of you were are very happy with that which is great because what’s the mantra here. Figure out what your process is and own it. What works for you is most important for me I am always going for sustainable creativity. Um, whether or not that’s a good idea. Yeah i. Right now I’m I’m thinking I’m pausing and thinking um is that a good idea I decided I need a little bit more light so is there a reason that I think that’s good idea and I may have to go back and reevaluate that. But.

And now now I really am thinking about it I arrived at that a long time ago when I first started writing novels when it occurred to me that I could not work in creative bursts. Which had been my habit when I was writing short. Um, one thing I started to do early on in my writing career was I went to working for 10 hour at my day job. I was working for an environmental consulting firm and so I would work from um, like 7 to 6 taking an hour to lunch for lunch and then I took Fridays off. So that I could have a full day on one day a week in order to write. It’s funny I hadn’t thought about that in a long time when I talk about things I did early in my career I always talk about the writing every day I did that first where I got up very early in the morning. So that I could write for an hour every day at the same time every day just to build the writing habit and it worked for me I didn’t want to do that I resisted it but it did work to start running the water through the pipes. But then later, especially when I had the. Career type job for the environmental consulting firm. It. Um, its start and and I’d switch to writing novels that I realized I couldn’t oh maybe I hadn’t switched to writing novels yet that might have been part of it. Because I was writing short I was writing primarily essays and so what I would do is I would think about them all week and these were like 1500 word 3000 word essays and I would think about them all week and then write them in one big burst which. You know that that worked for me. However, when I started really getting into writing novels and trying to figure out how to write a novel. Um, yeah like that first one took me forever to write. It felt like and I think I was doing the Fridays working on that too. Um, I big as it’s hard to remember that’s funny. Yeah, what ended up happening later was once I started getting book contracts traditional publishing contracts.

And I had to write to deadline and I had to figure out how to write to deadline that I kind of had a big come to Jesus meeting with myself I feel like maybe I’m not supposed to say that it’s you know I come from a a lapsed catholic family. So when we talk about. Come to Jesus meeting. We say it with a lot of irony. But when I’ve said it lately to people they kind of give me a funny look and I wonder if it’s just like you know the christian stuff is just like so not funny anymore. But that’s what we mean in my family is the come to. Come to Jesus meeting is ah when you have the hard talk and you have to like repent of your sorry ways and do better Maybe it’s just like this weird. Lapsed catholic thing and people don’t understand what I mean when I say it anyway. So I had this meeting with myself and 1 thing that has always been true of me or at least I believe to be true which is in. And important distinction was I felt like I didn’t work very hard at stuff all through school. Everything people were always telling me how my teachers and so forth that I wasn’t really applying myself and they would be like. You know you’re so smart but you’re just coasting um high school college grad school. They also have the same things to me and even in my early work and and it didn’t matter that I could get you know a’s. You know ace the exam or you know do whatever. Um you know, get all my work done I could get more work done than anybody else. It was that I didn’t appear to be working hard enough. So now we’re delving into my psychology. This is like a ah weird thing that I’ve wrestled with most of my life where. People are always telling me that I don’t work hard enough now. Oddly enough now people tell me I work all the time. My mom even said something to me about that when we were there last weekend you work all the time that’s like which is it. But anyway so when I had to come to Jesus meeting. With myself I thought. Okay, if you really want to do this if you want to write novels and make a living as a writer then you have to figure out how to work incrementally over time. You’re not gonna be able to do this big bursts of creativity and so that’s where I came up with all of this sustainable creativity i.

I want to figure out a way to work very consistently and and to be fair, this has worked well for me over time and so I’m just tweaking it and I had gone down to 2000 words a day which felt very easy. It was great. And it was really nice when I was done writing that I still had mental bandwidth to deal with other stuff and I’ve actually been making inroads on my to do list instead of feeling like my to do list is billowing so I’m I’m feeling at a very happy place. Um. In order to get the storm princess and the Raven King out released on may thirty first I want to have a certain amount of time to go back and revise it make sure that I get everything right? the way I want it to be. And in order to give myself that revision cushion I I could get it written at 2000 words a day but there’s like no buffer. So I thought okay, well since this feels easy I’m gonna take it up a little bit to 2500 words a day five days a week and see how that feels so so far it feels okay so far it feels good. Um, you know the the proof the test is how it feels in the long term and I still have mixed feelings about. Taking time off between books because it definitely sets me back so far as the training as being in shape to produce words at a particular rate. Um, so so I don’t know I don’t know on that but I’m feeling very excited about these next. Book projects that I want to write so I kind of want to get this book written and move on with my life. But I’m also really liking the book. Um, it’s it’s different I say that on every book don’t I this one’s different than I expected. Um. But in some ways this one is it’s surprisingly romantic I think it’s the most romantic of this particular series. Ah I don’t I feel like I don’t always go in for the full swooning romance. But um. This particular book with Lena and Ryan they are well they got this this tortured love right? So anyway, that’s where I’m at with things. Um, so.

My sticky note from yesterday that I never got to ah, we’ve been watching and I mentioned this before the Hbo miniseries winning time story of the l a lakers and really liking it a whole bunch. Watch the most recent episode on Sunday night I’ve recommended it before I’m still recommending it Jason Segel, John C Riley but great people in it. Um, Sally Fields. I think Sally Fields really enjoyed in this particular role. Um, but it’s it’s interesting because I mentioned that over the weekend I you know met up with the writers and. Sat at dinner next to Melinda Snodgrass and we talked about shows we were watching and everything and I suggested this one and she said oh I don’t like sports stuff I don’t watch sports stuff and I thought well okay, fair enough and I’ve been known to say the same thing but. And I have been the one to scoff when people are like oh but sports were a metaphor. Um, you know like I feel that way about the war movies like men bonding and war movies just doesn’t do anything for me and I don’t care if it’s a metaphor for the human condition or whatever. Yeah. You know that’s the only way men can figure out how to be friends I’m sorry ah callous of me but there we are but in this case, there is this is such a well-written script. That there’s actually not all that much basketball in it and it’s about this trying to create a thing trying to make a thing happen which is a story that is always fascinating to me overcoming. Um just all kinds of terrible luck. Ah, kinds of stuff happens and trying to make this a winning team so that you know cause John C Reilley plays this character boss who has like pretty much staked his entire fortune and there’s gonna be all these repercussions. If if they can’t pull this out so there are all sorts of really interesting conversations about winning what it means to succeed and I really appreciate these takes on things.

And I wonder how much they are influenced by Ted Lasso which is another sports show. That’s not really about sports and I hope that I didn’t ask Melinda if she watched that but you know there are similar themes in both It’s about what exactly are you trying to accomplish Ted Lasso the coach played by Jason Sudeikis is very interesting in that he says things like um. Like he doesn’t think that it’s important whether or not they win or lose the game that what matters is how they play it which you hear a lot It’s a little bit of a cliche probably but he he actually believes it and has it come through. Ah. In the winning time in the lakers story. It’s critically important that they win that they’re going for winning this championship in order to um, not lose at all ah lose all the money and have the team. I don’t know fall apart. What have you.

And it’s um, it’s interesting because in both shows even though the stated goals and the stakes are very different. There’s still that. Underlying wrestling with what does it mean to succeed and maybe that’s the same thing that I’m talking about with with word count or what I talked about yesterday with trying to evaluate like are you doing good work. Are you growing? Are you stretching? Are you success Eatinging um you know success is such a fraught concept. There’s so many ways to measure it but a lot of it has to do with what are you? Why are you doing this thing in the first place and that’s something about being a writer that um. You know there’s easier ways to make money you have to be doing it for the right reasons. Um and those they’re your own right? reasons doing it because you love it. Ah, there are a couple of characters in winning time. Like the former coach Jerry West who’s like won’t leave. He resigned his coach and yet he’s still hanging out and and he’s like he can’t get away from the game because he loves the game. Um, you know and there’s. There’s a lot of focus on Magic Johnson who is a rookie um in his very first season and then and there are older players like Karim Abdul Jabbar are on the team and. Your magic is wrestling with growing up but also with you know, trying to play professionally and why is he doing this what what is he trying to accomplish and there is this great bit in this. Episode on Sunday where he meets Dr J who I don’t recall ever hearing before but ah, you know I don’t really follow sports and I was young for a lot of this but Dr J was playing for the um Philadelphia seventy sixers I believe not that it matters. But Magic Johnson goes there. You know they have a a game and they meet he meets Dr J at a party and he and his girlfriend Cookie are you know, meet him and and magic’s trying to be all cool and she’s like I know.

That guy you could see I saw his face on the posters on your bedroom wall because you know they were boyfriend girlfriend in college and stuff and and he’s like yeah yeah, it’s not a big deal. She’s like it is a big deal and it is about you know meeting your heroes is such a big deal because you do this. And and we do this as writers right? you you grow up reading the books by these people and you feel like you know them, you feel like they’re your friends in a way and in the show. Dr J is very friendly to magic Johnson he. You know, invites him to a party in his room him and cookie and and his wife is really sweet to cookie very welcoming. You know and sort of being admitted to the the inner circle which is big too right? when you’re. Coming up as a writer and you meet these established writers and they sort of admit you to the circle. That’s a level of success right? because you’re like oh I get to hang out with such so and this is amazing and and I often say one of the best perks of being a writer is that you get to make other writers be your friends. In the way that you only imagined they were when you are reading your their books and even when they then meet on the court. Ah there’s this sort of extraordinary moment where Dr J comes over and embraces. Magic Johnson and he calls him young blood and he’s like you ready to play this game in blood and and magic’s all happy and and I even commented to David I said it’s so nice to see you know like an established person in the field and established pro be welcoming to the the rookie end. And then Dr J proceeds to slaughter him on the court and it it feels like a betrayal because he magic thought he was his friend and I think it’s Jerry West comes and says to magic johnson later you know I’ve seen him do this to other people. You know this is. This is a thing that he does where he makes you think that he’s your friend and then he uses that against you. It was like oh oh burn. But the thing is is this happens in the writing world too I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced that particular thing but certainly. There have been plenty of times when I have met my literary heroes writers whose books I admired so much and then they turn out to be total assholes and you know when people say that I am and and this is my favorite thing when people describe me as being generous or.

Kind. Ah, it means so much to me because because that’s who I want to be I want to be generous and kind to the younger writers because there were a few I mean there were plenty of writers who were generous and kind to me and continue to be and I am grateful for them. But there were a few who were not and it’s so shocking and it’s something that we talk about a lot. It’s like should you meet your heroes because when you meet your heroes. There is always that possibility that you will be disappointed in them. And that they will be unkind to you because 1 thing about people and maybe about writers in particular I don’t know if it extends to basketball players or other types of creators. But that ego is fragile and. They are forever insecure and there are some who will look at the young blood and see that person coming for their career instead of being instead of realizing that they were the poster. On the bedroom wall the book on the shelf. The inspiration that this rookie wants to it just bask in being around them. They see them as the young predator coming up to take a bite out of him and it’s unfortunate. But. And something to brace for that. There will be some who will do this and it’s um, like I said shocking and and crushing on a deep level and I love that they showed it in this show sports metaphor or not on that note I am heading off to work on my own books. Hope you all have a great Tuesday and I will talk to you on Tuesday you all take care bye bye.