…Jiggity Jig (Jig)


Vancouver in November

Not exactly my view last week, but you get the idea…
(photo via thetyee.ca)

I haven’t lived in the Lower Mainland since 1998, although I’ve been back to visit many times. This trip, I stayed at a friend’s condo a mere block away from the Stadium/Chinatown Skytrain station. She moved in with her boyfriend for the week and let me have the run of her beautiful little home. So I had a taste of the urban single writer’s life; every morning, I woke up, made tea, and worked in my pjs. I may or may not have eaten breakfast, depending on my mood. I opened the small window off the eating nook, put my feet up on the chair opposite, and wrote, listening to November rain. (Actual precipitation, not the GNR song.)

I had long, leisurely lunches with friends, both personal and professional. I even managed a coffee at an impossibly hip spot in Gastown. In the late afternoons, I scrambled back to the condo to make myself presentable before dashing out to make the evening events for which I’d been invited to Vancouver in the first place.

I joked with my friends that it was very Carrie Bradshaw, a la Sex and the City.

Well, without the outrageously fashionable attire, of course.

I thought I did a fair job of posting on social media, making sure to highlight/promote my author friends whenever I could. I even took some photos, something I’m fairly bad at when I’m in the spotlight.

Throughout it all, I felt incredibly grateful and so blessed by everyone’s support.

Sam Wiebe, thanks so much, comrade, for inviting me to do the VPL events and for coming up with the Asian Mystery Writers Book Club; what a neat way to introduce readers to us!
Patricia, my darling friend, thanks for so generously lending me your beautiful haven and for your dear friendship.
Uncle Benny and Auntie Helen, thanks for loving me without reservation.
Patrick, thank you, my plum, for sharing your hilarious stories and private world with me and for your inimitable friendship.
Mum, thanks, as ever, for being wonderful and funny and loving and so perfectly yourself.
Thank you to the warm and welcoming Vancouver writing community, most notably Janie Chang and Dietrich Kalteis and Linda L. Richards.
Vancouver Public Library, thanks so much for hosting me and thanks Jinder at South Hill and Sam at Central, for being so kind and engaged and excited about Canadian writers; I truly felt the love.

I’ve been home a few days now and am, naturally, taking stock of my life. (What? Doesn’t everyone do this after whirlwind author events..?)

I was mentally reviewing my schedule Sunday and I discovered that I’ve been running pretty much non-stop since April. I started to list out the stuff that’s required me to be in constant motion for 7 months (minus 1 week in July for a family vacation), but it was bogging down the post, so I deleted it; there were just too many details. Suffice to say, being an indie author entails a lot of work creating and coordinating and following up, marketing and planning and putting into action, then marketing and launching and collaborating…and so on and so on.

I definitely feel a certain pressure to produce, produce, produce and market, market, market—all at the same time. There’s a widely-disseminated belief that indie authors must produce ‘a book a year and two or three is better.’ Otherwise, readers will easily and mercilessly forget you.

I think that actually has more to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) theory than what actual readers are like. Not that SEO has no place in an indie author’s tool box; if you sell online, you need your stuff to be visible online and that’s what SEO is aaalll about. (Disclaimer: I am not, by any possible stretch of the imagination, classifiable as knowledgeable about SEO.)

I mean, readers are always looking for something to read. It’s not like any one author can satisfy all the readers all the time. We just can’t produce quality stuff on that timeline. This is also the reason why I think any talk about competition amongst authors is pretty much made up. Readers—me included—buy many, many books. Or, barring a huge book budget, we definitely borrow many, many books. I read a huge list of different authors and I know other readers do, too.

As you can guess, I think about this stuff a lot. It’s literally part of my job.

So, after a happily jam-packed schedule this past year, I’ve decided to concentrate on writing in 2017. I actually announced at two separate launch events last month that I wouldn’t be publishing a new novel next year. Technically, that’s still true: I’ll be publishing a novella instead.

In total, I have 4-slash-6 projects I’d like to either complete or make serious inroads on:

– a stand-alone novel; not related to the Lola series
– the aforementioned novella; an origin story of sorts about Lola’s first case
– a short story for a noir-themed anthology; on request by the editors
– books 4, 5, and 6 in the Lola series; I’m writing them as a trilogy-within-the-series—this counts like 3 projects, right?

I’m so grateful for the opportunities this past year and I continue to do my best to be a leader and good citizen in my writing and arts community (probably to varying degrees of success). At the same time, I haven’t written anything new creatively for going on 4 months now. That’s been bothering me. A lot. So I took stock, as I’ve mentioned I’m fond of doing, and I came up with this scheme. Makes sense, don’t you think?

I’m a writer: I write. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. I feel so lucky to be able to say that.