It was a spur of the moment decision. On February 9, the day before Ash Wednesday, I decided to give up social media (excluding WordPress and any postings I do for work) for Lent. I did it for lots of reasons, chief among them being I wanted to finish writing the sequel to Baby Grand, a project I started back in December 2014. I knew I was spending too much time on social media, but I just didn’t know how much. It was a lot. At first, I was perplexed by all the oodles of free time I didn’t know I had, but soon I found new activities to fill the void, as if I were a starfish whose amputated limbs were regenerating: I wrote quite a bit (the sequel is nearly completed, and I also found time for other writing, including this essay that appears in today’s Newsday) and charged through my daily to-do lists like nobody’s business. I also found myself calmer, serene. Turns out, while I was busy scrolling through posts, my thumb double-tapping images almost absently, I had been missing out on a lot of something that was important to me: me.
At the beginning of this month, I announced I would finish the first major edit of In the Red, my current work-in-progress, by April 1. And, lo and behold, I’m still on schedule. I’ve been editing 25 pages a week, so by tomorrow I’ll have edited 125 pages. Thrilled doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel. There have been so many stops and starts with this book that I had forgotten the secret to getting things done: Just sit your butt down and do it. Commit. Commit. Commit. Make writing/editing your book just as important as feeding your kids or working. That’s it. Just. Do. It. I knew this when I wrote Baby Grand. I’ve always known it, but somehow lost my way. Well, I’m back. And determined. I know the next 100 pages will be the toughest — the middle always is. That darn muddy middle. But my hope is that I’ll report at the end of February that I’ll be at 225 pages and ready to hit the homestretch.
In other news, my nonfiction book Daft Punk: A Trip Inside the Pyramid (St. Martin’s Press) was published on January 21. Very exciting! You know how people talk about the summer of 2013 being The Summer of Daft Punk? Well, it was doubly so for me, as I spent those three months, as “Get Lucky” raced up the charts and broke records, researching and writing this book. When Daft Punk won Album of the Year at the Grammys last Sunday (among other awards), I was smiling to myself as I recognized all their collaborators who were standing up at the podium with them: Paul Williams, Todd Edwards, Nile Rodgers and DJ Falcon, among others. I had learned so much about them that I felt as if I knew them. :)
What are you up to these days? Tell me what you’re working on. Together, we can get our WIPs done and toast our successes.
Mom and me, Book Revue, October 2012
When I was a little girl, my mother would leave notes for me around the house. And she would always sign them, “I love you desperately.” Three weeks ago, my mom called me at 5:30 a.m. from her hospital bed to remind me that she loved me. And she called it out to me as I was leaving her house two Sundays ago, the last day I would ever see her. My mother died a week ago on Thursday, March 21, after a relatively short, but ugly battle with cancer. It is a sad time for my family and for those who were lucky enough to be a part of my mother’s world. There will never be another person like her.
This morning, WordPress reminded me that today is my three-year blogging anniversary. I can still remember the day I started this blog as a way to jump-start my way out of an awful writer’s block. It worked. I managed to get my first novel written and published, and my mom was there every step of the way. She read Baby Grand as an eBook — the first eBook she’d ever read, proudly downloading the Kindle app software onto her computer all on her own. She sent emails to all her friends telling them about Baby Grand. This morning, I found this one, sent to an Atlantic City chum and cc-ed to me:
“How are you? R U gong this weekend? Just an fyi. Dina’s book is on Amazon. Here is the link to go on Amazon and request the book either on a kindle or right on the PC. It’s only $1.99 and I have to tell you I read it in 3 days. It’s THAT good. Not because she’s my daughter but because it’s THAT good. I read it off the PC and it was perfect for me. You can enlarge the font if necessary.”
She gave a copy to her Atlantic City slot host, demanded to know why some of my friends and family had not yet read the book, needled my dad, a thriller lover, for taking so long to read the eBook (although he’s a hard copy kind of guy, my mother insisted he read the eBook rather than wait for the paperback that was coming out a few months later). During the last days of her life, I contacted her oncologist to inquire about my mom’s health. When he answered the phone, I said, “Hi, my name is Dina Santorelli, I’m Pat Santorelli’s daughter.” He responded, “I know who you are. I have your book.”
Lately, it seems like everywhere I turn, there’s disturbing news for authors:
It’s all enough to make a struggling author throw in the towel and become a plumber, although I’m sure the plumbing business has its own bad news and unscrupulous practices.
Listen, bad news happens. People will tell you the only way to get anywhere as a writer is to know someone, lie, cheat, steal, or write torrid sex scenes. They’ll tell you that you’re nuts, crazy, stupid, unrealistic to pursue writing or want to publish a book. They’ll tell you lots of things, things that are being said in every industry, from entertainment to business to politics.
Don’t let it deter you. Believe in yourself, in your book, and make it happen.
Plus, practically every negative and deflating story out there can be countered with a little positive energy, like Penny C. Sansevieri’s Self-Publishing Stigma: Because Revolutions Take Time or just about any post in Nathan Bransford’s blog, which often is a fountain of “you can do it.” There are plenty of bright spots and inspiring people in publishing today. Plenty.
So while getting to your goal may be a difficult road, paved with liars and cheaters and meanies who don’t hold doors open for little old ladies, don’t fret. Just do your thing, and it should be all right.