What I’m Working on: Michael Jan Friedman

JLS_2839Remember the TV show Cheers? I hope so. I’d hate to think I was the only one taking notes back in the 80s.

Anyway, there was this episode in which Sam the barkeep lends serving maid Diane $500 to buy a first edition of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Great episode for a lot of reasons, but what I recall most clearly about it is how steamed Sam gets when Diane takes her time paying him back, especially when she keeps on buying little luxuries for herself. Like lobster salad. How, Sam asks, can she treat herself to lobster salad when she’s yet to pay him back a dime?

And me, I’m asking the same question. Diane’s got an obligation, after all. She has to discharge that obligation before she spends money on anything else. Come on, Diane, I’m thinking, give the guy a break. Pay him back.

Which is where Lost Days comes in.

Lost Days is a young adult novel I’m writing that turns on the ten days Pope Gregory eliminated (yeah, just like that–he was, after all, the Pope) to pull a bunch of holidays back into place before he instituted the Gregorian Calendar. (In October of 1582. You can look it up.)

So it was a clerical move. Or was it?

The fantasy writer in me has to wonder…what could have happened in those ten days that was so horrific Pope Gregory had to eliminate them? And thereby hangs my tale.

I actually started writing it last summer. You know, tinkering with it, writing a passage here and there. About the same time, I ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund its publication. Good and generous people came from all over the globe to back Lost Days. It felt good. I wanted to give them the best book I was capable of writing. And I wanted to do it by February of 2015.

That’s what I told them I would do. Just like Diane told Sam she would pay him back that $500.

Well, it’s April and Lost Days is taking longer than I thought. It’s a historical fantasy, after all, and that means a lot of research. And, of course, I don’t want to cheap out on the veracity. As I said, I want this to be the best book I can write.

The problem is…once a month, I play cards. And I go to a movie occasionally, though not nearly as often as I’d like. And God help me, I’ve got a barbecue on Sunday. And while I’m playing cards (losing mostly, but that’s neither here nor there), and sitting in the movies, and gnawing on that perfectly grilled rib, I’m thinking I should be writing.

All those people showed their faith in me by supporting Lost Days. I should be pounding away at my keyboard 24-7. I’ve got an obligation to discharge. Which means I can’t enjoy anything, and I mean anything, until I finish this book.

So, to answer our Crazy 8 theme-question of the month, what am I working on? Lost Days, dognabit. And I swear not to pig out on lobster salad till I’m finished.


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