Self-Publishing Notebook: On procrastinating — I have an excuse!

There's only one excuse for not writing.

Did you miss me? Did you notice I was missing? I have a name for writers who say they don't procrastinate: Liars. If you're keeping score, I'm a little late with this installment of Self Publishing Notebook . I'm so late, I'm not even sure when it was due. I'm going to tell you this story, only because it offers yet another opportunity for me to take shots at the A&E editor, who we call "Catherine" because that's what's on her birth certificate. Plus, it gives me a chance to ride on my high horse and make sure that as a "writer" reading this blog, you actually write with some regularity.

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, and that applies to major organ systems too. I lived a life of medical boredom for 42 years. I never even had to watch my weight. I'm not bragging... I was never some soy-milk-guzzling, raw-farm-to-table-freak, but I try to eat right and exercise. At the same time, if someone said to me, "Read this book and you'll never eat pork again" or "watch this documentary and you'll become vegan" I'd tell them to get their propaganda far away from me. I'm fine, thanks.

Until about two weeks ago when I had a rare event that put me on the operating table for the sort of procedure men much older than me are lucky to survive. All my years of clean living couldn't overcome something in my genes. It's pretty strange to pass out and wake up with a four-day beard. 

After giving my family a terrible scare, I face some recovery time. Writing was the furthest thing from my mind... but it's all my friends and colleagues would talk about:

"Hey, now you have some extra time to write!"

"Now you can finish that book."

And I've been given four books to read. One friend read me poetry in the hospital (I say nothing of his sobriety at the time.) And then Catherine from Creative Loafing dropped in.

"Hey, you owe me a blog post. I need more from you, not less." A lot of people who know her might describe her as the sarcastic type, but I'd say the opposite. She's usually saying exactly what she means, and you wish she was being sarcastic. When she left the room, I started writing again. The draft of that blog post will be submitted for the little known "Percocet Pulitzers" awarded to the least coherent writing, influenced by pain medicine. It's a major literary category in Florida.

Before I conclude, a brief update on the editing of my next book. My first beta-reader offered the kind of brutally honest opinion I chose her for: "The second half is really great. I loved it. But it started too slow. I might not have read past chapter five if I hadn't promised you I'd do it."

So, yeah... the first five chapters are getting a rewrite with a shot of adrenaline. As writers we need this sort of feedback to save us from over-appreciating our own words. I thought those first five chapters were "dark." I thought they gave my character "depth." No, they put the reader to sleep.

There is always going to be a reason not to write. I suppose a near-death experience is one of them. But the only thing that really can stop you is death itself. If you're reading this, you're alive! While I was busy not writing, a friend finished the first draft of his third book. Catherine, in between harassing me and other writers, received the final proofs of her first traditionally-published book. Procrastinating is a lousy feeling. Writing is fulfilling. I'll bet you have 10 minutes right now... go write something. 

(Editor's Note: Jon did indeed give us all a scare and we're glad he's feeling up to posting and, in the case of what I said when I visited him in the hospital, wild exaggeration.)

By day Jonathan Kile is a peddler of petroleum products, navigating a Glengarry Glen Ross landscape of cutthroat sales. By night he assumes the identity of novelist and child-wrangler. Jonathan’s first published novel, The Grandfather Clock, is available on Amazon. He's writing his second and third novels, blogging at Well-Oiled Writer and cursing his editor. You can email him here

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