Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Kimberly Menozzi: Writer, Interrupted

Did you miss Kimberly's monthly feature in April? I know I did. Here, all the way from the States, is a new piece by one of our favourite writers, who's remembered about us even when she has more important matters to think about! Please join me in thanking her and wishing her mother well.

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For many writers, one of the hardest things to manage is time. Finding the time to write is one of the first obstacles presented to anyone who fancies the notion of being a working writer. Different writers go about this in different ways - some write during any free moment they find throughout the day, others write early in the morning before their families wake up, still others wait and write late at night. A handful of writers like myself are very fortunate and are able to write throughout the day. I work part time for a language school and have an office in my flat in my home in Italy. The computer is primarily for my use - my husband has his own laptop for his computer needs - and in that respect, I have what seems like complete freedom. No kids, few outside work demands and a cat who sleeps most of the day mean I'm free to research and write when I like.

Except when I can't.

My current project, 27 Stages, has been interrupted twice. That doesn't sound like much, I know, but those interruptions have brought work on this novel to a near-standstill both times.

The first time work stopped was November of 2009: I was writing well, words were flowing freely and I had gotten nearly two-thirds of the way through the projected work on it. The morning after returning from London (where I'd managed to do more work in spite of touristing about and attending a launch party for a friend), I received a call from my mother. My stepfather had passed away unexpectedly during the night. Needless to say, my writing was set aside for a while. I took a printout of my first chapters with me to work on during the flights from Italy to Tennessee, but I couldn't focus well enough to get anything done. I didn't resume work on the novel until March, and then it was half-hearted at best.

Not long after that came revisions and edits on Ask Me if I'm Happy, to prepare for publication in 2010. I continued to work on 27 Stages throughout, but it was undoubtedly relegated to a secondary position as the work on Ask Me... was on a deadline. Once I'd gotten those revisions done, other work kept me preoccupied - lessons at the school, promotional efforts and the like - and so my beloved cycling novel was again relegated to the 'When I get around to it' file.

It wasn't until mid-2011 that I was able to really focus again on 27 Stages. With Ask Me if I'm Happy in re-release and Alternate Rialto having debuted the previous spring, I found the time to get back into Federico and Abby's world. After a few false starts, the writing began to flow again, and I completed the first draft of the novel in early 2012. I forced myself to take a short break, planning on edits and revisions in March and April, then to submit the first three chapters to a number of agents while I polished the whole novel in the meantime. When I left for the US in May, I thought, I'd have the whole thing completed.

It didn't happen. I started a new course at my language school in February which took up more time than I'd expected, and then, on April 13th, I called home to talk to my mother and got some more unwelcome news. I knew she'd had macular degeneration in her left eye for quite some time, so that was nothing new. I was stunned to learn that she had awoken that morning to find she'd lost the vision in her right eye as well. When I called, she was about to go to her doctor, and was hoping desperately that this event was not macular degeneration too.

But it was. I shifted my plans around and went home a month early, and set 27 Stages' edits aside for a while. Now my time is used helping my mother out by driving her to her doctor appointments, shopping for her and doing other chores she can't do because of her impaired vision. There is hope that the next surgery will clear her vision enough for her to be able to read better, but there are no guarantees.

When she's seeing her doctors, I edit printed pages of my novel while I wait for her. While she watches TV (sitting up close to a 55" TV enables her to make out much of the program even if she can't see the center of the screen), I edit and revise. When her friends visit, I make the changes to the manuscript file on the computer while they chat in another room.

It's not what either of us planned, but what can we do? Sometimes, Life just gets in the way.

We'll just have to find a way to work around it.

2 comments:

Jeane said...

Good luck! I know many look forward to your new book, as the two previous ones were great.
I hope there aren't too many poblems in Reggio Emilia with the earhquakes.

Kimberly Menozzi said...

Thanks for your kind words, Jeane, about my previous books. I hope you're right that other readers are looking forward to 27 Stages, as well.

Reggio Emilia felt the quakes, but sustained mostly minor damages. My own building has a few more cracks in the plaster than before (so my husband tells me) but seems to be okay.

However, I have decided to give 50% of June's profits for my books to Croce Rossa Italiana as well as other charities which are assisting in the post-quake recovery efforts in Emilia-Romagna.

You can read my blog at http://www.kmenozzi.com/1/post/2012/06/updated-info-for-those-who-would-like-to-help.html for more information and links to donate directly, too.