What’s your speed?

(from my 4/19 post on Murderati.com)

My husband says I walk too fast. He complains about this whenever we stroll together, even when we’re not late for any appointment but just seeing the sights. “What’s your hurry?” he asks. “Are you trying to make me feel like a slacker?” Really, I’m not; I just naturally walk fast. How fast? I think people in Manhattan should stop being so pokey.

Years ago, when I was working as a doctor in a Honolulu emergency room, I walked into a treatment room to sew up a cop who had a nasty laceration. Before I could say a word, the cop says, “You’re not from the islands, are you?”

“How the heck did you know that?” I ask, completely baffled. As an Asian American, I look like half the population of Honolulu.

“It’s the way you walk,” he said. “You look like you have to get somewhere in a hurry. Islanders don’t walk that way.”

Now that’s an observant cop.

Another memory: my husband and I are in London, on a double date for dinner with my UK editor and her husband. My editor and I walk together, and we both walk fast. We’re talking business while we walk, and we’re so engrossed in conversation that we’re not really paying attention to where our husbands are. Suddenly we realize we’ve lost them. They’re nowhere to be seen. We halt on the sidewalk, wondering if they took a wrong turn or ducked into a pub somewhere. A moment later the men appear, annoyed and grumbling about “these damn career women, always leaving their husbands behind.”

The thing is, I don’t think I walk fast. This is just my natural walking pace and if I slow down, I feel as if I’m wading through molasses. It’s something that’s inborn and not a conscious thing. We each have our own natural rhythms that determine how much sleep we need and how fast our hearts beat.

In the same way, I think I have my own writing speed, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t change it. I would love to write multiple novels a year. I would love to have a new book on the shelves every four months. The fastest I ever wrote was back when I was writing romantic thrillers for Harlequin, and one year I managed to write two books, but those were only 300-page manuscripts. Now that I’m writing longer thrillers, I have to work hard to meet my book-a-year deadlines.

Now, this may have something to do with my chaotic process. I don’t outline, I don’t plan ahead. I plunge into a first draft and it goes all over the place and it ends up a mess. Which means I have to spend the next five months cleaning it up. Oh, if I could just have a logical system with notecards that summarize every chapter ahead of time. If only I could approach it like an engineer with a blueprint. But even if I could do it that way, I think I’d still be writing only a book a year. Because of that natural rhythm thing again. I write four pages a day and I’m bushed. Whether those four pages are good or bad, they exhaust me.

And I have to wander off and make a martini to recover.

I’ve given up beating myself over the head about my pokey writing schedule. Just as I’ve stopped apologizing for how fast I walk. Too bad I couldn’t be a fast writer and a slow walker.

Then everything would be perfect.

8 replies
  1. PeggyOKane
    PeggyOKane says:

    You’ll be happy to note that walking speed is an indicator of over all good health. There are a number of articles on the research that you can find in the Maine state wide MARVEL databases.
    The reference staff at the State Library would be happy to send you some.

  2. terri
    terri says:

    I guess your walking speed might be a trait of the Asian bloodline… But speed isn’t everything. I think the schedule of having a new book a year is great, because this pulsated supply creates a desire and anticipation for the readers to look forward to something novel and nice every once in a while.

  3. DebPiccurelli
    DebPiccurelli says:

    It makes me feel good to know that one of my favorite writers is a “seat of the pants” girl. I, too, write that way, but mostly out of lack of experience. I keep hoping that as time goes on I’ll become accustomed to outlining. At least I can say (*tongue in cheek*) that I’m in the best of company.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. mom23hungryboys
    mom23hungryboys says:

    I am always leaving my husband (he dawdles)in my dust. I probably should learn to slow down, but when I try, it’s obviously impossible. What I see as wasting time, he sees as taking his time. It’s all a matter of perspective 🙂

    If I were an actual writer, there is no way I could follow an outline. I blog and fortunately can type as fast as my thoughts swirl in my head and find that I make so much more sense when I just “let ‘er rip”.

  5. MendozaEva23
    MendozaEva23 says:

    I guess that to receive the credit loans from creditors you should have a firm reason. Nevertheless, once I’ve received a sba loan, just because I was willing to buy a car.

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