Tuesday, December 11, 2012


We had a little discussion at my monthly writers' lunch about how Paul Dickson churns out so many books. He brought his "book of the week" to the lunch -- a slim volume of humor explaining what various journalistic catchphrases mean. He said he had been collecting items for this book for 20 years. "These are shoe box projects," he said.

Paul writes nonfiction, often about baseball, and his cash cow is a regular update of the Dickson Baseball Dictionary. So many of his other books are also about words, their origins and their uses, such as a recent book on words coined by presidents. When someone else in our group asked how he keeps it all straight, he mumbled something about having different folders, not wanting to get bored with one project, and so on.

So I'm wondering whether one way to solve my output issue isn't just to switch projects whenever one of the stalls. If Econnovel -- the Gold sequel -- runs into a dry patch, why not work on another project. I have a number that have been shoved into the drawer, starting with Reich and including a number of false starts that I did with the writing group. But maybe they're not false starts. Even Reich, which I thought was getting out of date because the villain had to be 10 in 1945 could just be set in the late 1990s, which is when it was set when I started it. Why not? The interesting thing about the success of the Gold reprint is that it doesn't seem to matter to people that it's 20 years old. A story is a story and they make allowances.

I multi-task in my journalism, and juggle several projects at the same time, so why can't I do it in my fiction, too?