I live my life a quarter mile at a time. — Dom Toretto
This is not the first time I’ve referenced this favorite quote in this space. Vin Diesel’s line is a running theme throughout the Fast & Furious franchise, and, to me, is a tremendously apt way to describe living in the moment.
My specific reference is not miles, but years. Having cut my teeth in the business world in the discipline of accounting, I’m prone to think of years in quarters. And as I find myself at the end of Q1 2021, it felt like a good time to post a quarter report. So here, in no particular order, are some particulars:
- While I have not been idle, I have still not prepared the manuscript of my 3rd novel for public consumption. But I have set a fast (and furious) goal of having it prepared by end of Q2. Q2 2021, just to be clear.
- I completed a “game-ified” course in the Python programming language through an app called Mimo. That’s all I have to say about that.
- I discovered the writer Jess Lourey. I have not read her — I watched a webinar on editing she offered through Sisters in Crime, and was thoroughly impressed. I plan to take more of her online courses, after I finish my editing work (see bullet point #1).
- I finished Don Quixote. I found myself thinking of the musical theme to Monty Python and the Holy Grail through most of it. And realized how much Terry Gilliam must have been influenced by Don Quixote. In fact, I discovered there’s a 2018 film, written and directed by Terry Gilliam, called The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. With Jonathan Pryce as Don Quixote, and one of my favorites, Stellan Skarsgard, as a character called “The Boss.” And Adam Driver as Toby, and my guess from his billing is that he is the eponymous “man who killed Don Quixote.”
Anyway, to wrap this up: I’ve added The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to my ever growing “to be watched” list. But, I close the book on Don Quixote thinking how little, and how much, has changed for writers in the past 400 years. And I believe it’s a net positive for writers in the current era.
How little has changed: there’s a scene near the end, in Chapter 62, where Don Quixote enters a book printer’s shop in Barcelona. Don Quixote asks an author he encounters whether he is printing at his own risk, or if he’s sold the copyright to a bookseller. The author answers that he would not give up his copyright so readily, and that he is printing at his own risk: “I do not print my books to win fame in the world, for I am known in it already by my works; I want to make money, without which reputation is not worth a rap.”
How much has changed: to me, the risk an author hazards in the digital era is significantly less than 400 years ago, or even 25 years ago. With an exponentially increased potential readership over 400 years ago, and a reduced out-of-pocket cost compared to 25 years ago, it seems to me that a writer has very little to lose by putting her works out there.