or is it the other way around? Two steps forward and one step back?

All I know is that it’s incredibly frustrating.

I know I gave myself permission to write a lousy first draft, and that I did, but still, I was hoping there wouldn’t be quite so much work to do on the manuscript!

I feel like I should be further along. I feel like one of my friends described, “stuck in a rut with my wheels spinning”.

Make no mistake, the publishing industry is probably at it’s absolute worse right now!

When all this started back in 2008, a colleague of mine said that he thought that with the economic downturn people would be turning even more to books because they provided such value for their money!

I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Books are luxury items.

In an economic downturn what are you going to buy first? Food or a book?

And it really worries me that I don’t seem to see that many people reading any more!

It’s just not something people really emphasize like they used to.

So what’s the answer?

A while back I heard that 20% of people by 80% of the books. And that’s ALL books!

And any hope that I have of getting in on the Muslim niche marketing thingie is kind of gone.

There is a whole field of Muslim books out there, but quite frankly most of them are entirely geared towards only Muslim audiences. They’re completely unsuitable for pluralistic society. Quite frankly they’re far too preachy!

They’re books designed to prove that Islam is beautiful and correct. Nothing wrong with that per se. There’s Christian literature that’s designed to evoke the beauty of Christianity and I’m sure there’s Jewish and Hindu literature that espouses the beauty of those doctrines too, but these are all niche markets and I’m just not geared towards a niche market.

So I announced a few days ago that I finished the first draft of my hajj novel, and now I realize that it really will need a lot of work.

It’s so frustrating!

I knew it would need work, but I didn’t think it would need that much work.

I even went ahead and dropped a hint to my agent to let her know that it was coming together.

Oh well, back to work on it tomorrow.

I have lots of ideas, but unlike the last time that I got feedback on that second project of mine, I’m not ‘excited’ per se. Maybe it’s because of this cold I’ve had. Maybe it’s run me down and I’m tired.

And maybe it’s because of how busy this week is going to be from Wednesday to Friday!

But I definitely feel that it’s one step forward and two back.

I wish it was easier to write a novel that works now than it was when I first started.

But it isn’t.

Oh well.

Went to the doctor on Thursday because the cold was settling into my sinuses and it felt like an elephant was sitting on my face.

Got a prescription for antibiotics but it was funny. The doctor’s office I go to has finally computerized all the files. And my poor doctor was hunched over the keyboard hunting and pecking at the keys. I asked her how the transition was going and she said, “Horrible! Everything takes twice as long as before!”

And I couldn’t help thinking it would be easier if you learned how to type!

She asked me how things were going with me. I told her wonderfully! Then I told her about Big Red Lollipop and the recognition it had received in the States.

Then she grumbles, “Was that the book you gave me?”

I’d given her a copy of Many Windows. She’s Jewish and I thought she’d particularly like the Hanukkah story I’d written in it.

I said no, this was my picture book. Then I told her how it had received more recognition in the States than in Canada.

And she said, “Oh well, you know the States… those people have such poor taste in literature! They like anything.”

Then she glanced at me and said, “No offence.”

I was too stunned to burst into laughing. Although typing this out I am laughing. Hard.

I just looked at her blankly and said, “Of course not.” While it slowly dawned on me that she’d kind of insulted my writing.

Oh well. Everyone’ s allowed to have an opinion. And believe it or not, she’s still one of the better doctors I’ve had.

The best doctor I had was Chinese but she moved back to her native Edmonton, and I miss her dearly.

I’ve also had a doctor who was Muslim, who, when she found out that I was a writer, said, “Oh you know what I  would do if I were a writer?”

“What?” I said.

She said, “I would go up north, lock myself in a cabin, and write a novel in TWO WEEKS!”

I didn’t say anything at the time. My son was just a baby and lying on the examining table. I didn’t want to tick her off.

So I just murmurred, “You would, would you?”

She said, “Oh YES! There’s no reason why you can’t write a novel in two weeks!”

I’m not sure how long she talked about writing during that visit, but it was quite a while.

The only reason I went to her in the first place was because the wait for my Chinese doctor was often two hours. Mind you, when you did finally get in to see my Chinese doctor, she was very thorough and really listened to what was wrong with you! It was a worthwhile price to pay. I ditched the Muslim and went back. I got to the point where I didn’t mind it. I’d just park myself in the waiting room and take a nap. Really. I’d fall asleep and wake at the sound of my name.

At least she didn’t try to hone in on my field of expertise. She stuck to hers and did it well, which was more than enough to earn my respect and gratitude.

Now there’s a field that doesn’t suffer from recession! Doctors!

But alas, I’m not wired that way.

I can never be a real doctor.

I can only play one in a story.

But back to that Jewish doctor. She did say that learning the new skills with the computerized files was good for her because it staved off Alzheimers.

And right then I thought of that movie I’d watched on the omnimax theatre at the Science Centre called Wired to Win, which talked about how creative endeavours always involved creating new pathways in your mind.

And the reason why each story is so darn hard is because each story takes a different path (or else you’re getting formulaic) and that means the brain is creating new pathways with each book you ever write. There is no duplication of process. One book will never help you write the next because it’s got to be completely different.

And I thought, yeah, well, how hard this is also means that it reduces my risk of Alzheimers.

So in that way it’s all good too.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t darn hard.

And snide remarks from doctors sure don’t help.