Rita Lakin, "one of our own" here at the LadyKillers, grabs the baton from Camille Minichino, who posted about "A Writer's Process" last week on her personal blog as part of a "blog hop" among mystery authors. Rita hops on down the virtual road with her own contribution, below.
What am I working on/ writing?
I’ve just completed three years of work on my memoir, THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM. (maybe I should have called writing it - The Agony & the Ecstasy) Truly a labor of love based on my 25 years working as a screenwriter and producer in TV in Hollywood. I tell of my start as a secretary and how I worked my way up to be a major player in the game of writing and producing shows. Those of you old enough might remember my shows like Dr. Kildare, Peyton Place and multitudes of others.
Why I wrote the memoir? I’ve discovered lately that I had been a pioneer then, a woman writing in a business run by men. And I hoped young women reading this insider’s look at an era of women’s lib would realize how far they had come and to continue to push for equality.
So, now I’m back to writing my comedy mystery series of novels about Gladdy Gold and her merry band of elderly PI’s. This would be book number eight, working title, GETTING OLD CAN HURT YOU, in which Gladdy and her girls take on the case of a 14 year-old ragamuffin who insists she is Ida’s long-lost granddaughter and begs them to save her from getting murdered.
How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?
Simply that all the main characters in my Gladdy Gold books are loosely based on members of my own family. When I decided to do comedy after only writing drama, where did I look for comedy inspiration? For 20 years I made yearly visits to my folks who had retired in Ft. Lauderdale. Hanging around with them was like living in a TV sitcom. I would ask my mom: “Why don’t you ever go to the beach, you live five minutes away.” Mom: “And come home and get sand on my rug?” Every one of them was a standup comedian without even knowing it. Then there’s also my uncle who never stops telling dated stupid jokes about women and marriage. Hy: “ Why do hen-pecked men die before their wives? Because they want to.” See what I mean?
An interesting factoid. There are probably more than 25 authors using Florida as their background and none of us ever tread on the others’ turf. Florida, filled with wackos galore, give off endless crazy crimes for satire. Where else could I find crimes like the Grandpa bandit- a 90 year old who robs banks and the cops can’t catch him. Or my favorite, a senior lady, confronted by a kid who tries to rob her purse, hits him with her cane and two weeks later there are twenty oriental businesses offering Kane-fu.
That’s what makes my work differ from others.
Why do I write what I do?
Why do I write at all? For me, that was the question.
Even though I wrote little snippets of tales as a child, and even though I was editor of my high school, and college magazines where I won awards for writing, even though I read books voraciously, even though I compulsively kept diaries, and wrote short stories, it never entered my mind that I could be a “writer.” Duh.
In my generation, girls became wives and mothers. Then if you had to work, or even wanted to work, you had only these choices: Teacher. Librarian. Secretary. Nurse. Receptionist. Beautician. Saleslady. All of them low-paying jobs, of course. Women didn’t deserve to have salaries equal to men. At least, that’s what we were told.
Sure, I read books by women writers. But they were icons to me. Creatures from a faraway imagined world. My mind could not envision myself on that hallowed ground.
I wrote. I liked to write. All I ever wanted to do was write. My sweet hobby. Did I make the connection? I guess not. I became a school teacher. No, not even an English teacher. I taught third and fourth grade kiddies. But I sure taught those kids how to read and write.
Finally, after college, wanting to try something new instead of teaching, I answered an ad for a reporter job on a small town newspaper. A wild idea was brewing inside my fevered brain. I liked this. I loved this. This writing thing…
Timidly, I mailed out short stories to magazines. Sold two. But, it still being a man’s world, I was advised not to let them know I was a woman, so I used my initials.
Since, because then living in LA. Home of Hollywood, I made my big jump.
At age 33, I sold my first script to television. And never looked back.
And wrote and wrote and wrote. Short stories, theatrical plays, TV scripts and eventually novels. Mystery novels. A whole lifetime of doing what I loved to do. Winning prizes, lots of nominations. What is it, the kids of today say? – follow your bliss.
Cogito ergo sum. I think therefore I am… a writer.
How does my writing process work?
As they say in real estate, location, location. Location. Mine was having my office, no matter where I lived, even in movie studios, it had to be next to the kitchen. My goal lay in what was in the fridge. (Don’t bother to analyze this, it’s just a fact)
Hours. I work non-stop from 9am to noon. Not on weekends. And depending on the job, sometimes from 11pm to midnight. Whatever work I’ve done the day before, I always review before working the next day. I also leave on a high note of mid scene or chapter, so it will be easy to jump start the next day. I also strongly believe in outlines.
(However, on deadlines all bets are off and I work ‘til I drop)
And why do I stop at noon, besides being exhausted from heavy thinking?
Let me tell you about an old friend, writer William Murray. He worked the same way. Stopped absolutely at noon. Why? Because he had another life – he was a horse race enthusiast (bettor as well as horse owner) and he had to get to the track when it opened.
Me, I had to get to lunch and then nap! Then live my life.
As an assistant director in Italy said when I asked why he voted not to work Saturday on this American movie that was being shot in his village, “We don’t live to work, we work to live.”