Doing the Asimov

James Scott Bell

Fiction writers are nuts. Crazy. Not right in the head.
You have to be, at least a little bit. I mean, you want to make stuff up and expect to get paid for it? You want people to give you money for lying? You could go to law school for that. Why write?
You want to invest years of time plugging away at fiction with no guarantee of return? You want to endure the looks of pity and scorn you get around the Thanksgiving table when it’s your turn to talk about what you do?
Yes, we’re all more than a little unhinged in this game.
Sometimes, it gets even crazier. Like now.
I’m doing “The Asimov.”

Isaac Asimov was one of the most prolific authors of all time. Something north of 500 books. Not just fiction, but science, history, Shakespeare scholarship, biblical studies, jokes. Sheesh, how did he do it?
By having no life, that’s how (he said so himself). Asimov had several typewriters around his New York apartment, each with a different project in it. When he tired of working on one he got up, stretched, walked across the room and went to work on  another.
He’d “snatch time.” If he had a fifteen minute wait for something – say, guests to arrive –– he’d write.
Writing madness, that’s what possessed him. And I fully understand it.
I’ve been working for days on edits of a manuscript, brainstorming new scenes for a novel in progress and reading pages for two projects on which I’m a consultant. This morning I revised a story and hammered out final details on my seminar. I looked at the clock. I thought an hour had gone by. It was lunchtime.
I made myself a steak sandwich and parked in front of the TV to watch a little ESPN while I ate.
I also grabbed my AlphaSmart Neo, the nifty, light, dedicated word processor that runs on AA batteries, upon which I am typing this essay.
Type. Eat. Watch. Stupid Dodger owner. Type. Eat.
Cut to:
The steak sandwich is gone. And I’ve got a blog entry almost done.
That’s The Asimov.
I have some writer friends who say they cannot do this. They can only concentrate on one project at a time. Personally, I think they’d find The Asimov refreshing. Taking a “rest” on one project lets the brain cells work on it under the radar.
But who knows? Brains are wired differently. That’s why we have Jersey Shore and Masterpiece Theater coming out of the same box. 
What about you? Can you work on more than one project at a time, with the same intensity? Or do you think that’s a ticket to madness?

It’s time for some ice cream now. Excuse me.