For the past four years I was a full-time technical writer and a full-time fiction writer. I wrote three and a half books: Speaking of Murder (as Tace Baker), A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, and ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part, plus several short stories. I wrote fiction around the edges of commuting an hour each way to my job in the software industry in the greater Boston area. I carved out Saturday mornings and three-day solo writing retreats. It was very stressful, but writing fiction makes me happy, so I did it.
Last May, though, I took the plunge and left my day job. Now my commute is one minute long: upstairs to my lovely home office in our antique New England house. An oil painting titled “Edith’s World” hangs on the wall and features me writing at a desk with my imagination in the background. Next to it is a map of my town from over a hundred years ago. My writing buddy Birdie sometimes keeps me company.
It was a little financially imprudent to quit my job when I did. After a good friend was diagnosed with brain cancer a year ago at age fifty five, though, I did some deep thinking. If I found out I had only one more year to live (we are grateful Susan is still alive and pretty well, by the way), would I want to spend it writing technical documentation or murder mysteries? The answer was clear.
Now every morning I get my coffee and sit down at my desk. I first check email, Facebook, and favorite blogs for about an hour. I push out news of the day’s topic at my group blog, wickedcozyauthors.com. And then I open Scrivener and start writing. I began the third book in my Local Foods Mysteries series, Farmed and Dangerous, on September first.
I set myself a goal of writing at least one thousand words every weekday. That gets me a first draft finished by December thirty-first, which leaves me four additional months to polish it before my deadline of May first. So far I’m on schedule. When I get stuck I glance up at the drawing of “The Muse Most of Us REALLY Need.”
I usually accomplish that goal by around eleven. Then I go to the gym or for an hour’s brisk walk. I use the afternoons for writing guest posts like this one, arranging new speaking or signing gigs, or doing any of the other many pieces of work that being an author entails. Sometimes I sit in my grandfather’s rocker and read. Occasionally I squeeze in a nap on the futon couch (which opens up to be a guest bed when we need it).
So I’m still working full time. I have had a couple of short-term tech writing contracts, but I now fit those in around the edges of my fiction. I was able to finish Bluffing is Murder, the second book in the Speaking of Mystery series, and send it to Barking Rain Press. I’m plotting a third series, this time historical mysteries with a Quaker midwife as sleuth protagonist and her friend and mentor, the very real John Greenleaf Whittier, in the 1880s. And I couldn’t be happier.
A former organic farmer, Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mysteries with organic farmer Cam Flaherty, the Locavore Club, and locally sourced murder (Kensington Publishing). She writes (as Tace Baker) the Speaking of Mystery series from Barking Rain Press featuring Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau. Edith holds a PhD in linguistics and is a member of Amesbury Meeting of Friends. Edith also writes award-winning short crime fiction, belongs to MWA, and is the secretary of Sisters in Crime New England. A mother and fourth-generation Californian, she lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats.