Thursday, February 08, 2007

The First Time is the Best

I love writing. Not just the act of putting together a novel but reading and learning about the craft. Every novel I read, I analyze the structure and pacing. The substance and gimmicks, so to speak. I sometimes read novels I don’t really like so I can avoid the same mistake in my own books. I also enjoy reading blogs about what some writers go though. Not necessarily the business angle. We all have problems with copy editors, agents and lack of recognition. I like to read about someone stuck in the middle of a book or caught up in the fifth edit of a novel. There are a number of blogs that cover this sort of thing. It somehow makes me feel like I’m not alone in my concerns. Sure I want support from the publicity department at Putnam. Yeah, I wish my books debuted on the New York Times list. But I’m even more interested in writing a novel that interests readers and tells a good story. I’m fascinated by other writers who strive for the same thing.

One blog I read for this is First Offenders First Offenders. Hearing about the problems Lori Armstrong, Karen Olsen, Jeff Shelby and Alison Gaylin go through often strikes a chord with me. I’m not the only one who screams in frustration at dialog that doesn’t come or scenes that feel too contrived. One important note is that each of these writers produce excellent books.

The reason I bring this up is that I started a new novel this week. Writing it, not reading it. It may not fly. I’ve written several treatments and fifty pages of novels that either my agent or editor didn’t want to try. It doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm. It’s a magical time when you start to lay out a story and get a feel for the characters. Even if you’ve written about the characters before. What triggers the story? Who’s good? Who’s bad? What will confuse readers and what is clear? How much procedure do I include in the narrative? These are all questions that are vital to me, if not important to the universe in general.

So now, when I take a quick break from figuring out why a hit man would interrupt a gun deal on the streets of West Palm Beach, Florida, I can jump over and write a few paragraphs of my new weekly blog. It’s a nice change.

It also speaks to whether I’m a writer/cop or a cop/writer. For years, as I toiled in secret, I was just a cop. Then, after Walking Money was published, I noticed I was called a cop/writer. Now, four books into my new career, I clearly think of myself as a writer first. Maybe because it took so long to achieve. I don’t take my police job for granted. I worked hard to get it as well but now I like to think of myself as a writer.

Writers get the crap kicked out of them less often.

I had an odd experience this week. Lucky and fun (No, Paul, not that kind of lucky) but odd. The local NBC station, WPTV, followed me with a camera and did a very nice story on my day job and the release of Field of Fire. I'd post it but can't figure out how to post a movie. If anyone can tell me I'll get it up later. The upload a file option didn't work here.

My super smart daughter has posted the video on the Myspace she created for me.

I don't know where they got the idea idea that I have won a Pulitzer and I'm often compared to a larger, male, Mother Teresa.

And Finally

To avoid controversy around the Born house and maintain domestic tranquility, as well as being fair, I wanted to mention that jumping on the trampoline with your daughter is as much fun as lifting weights with your son. If you don’t believe me take a look at this photo of Emily doing her stuff.



  1. Hey, Jim, you're making all of us over at First Offenders blush. And if you don't watch out, people will begin to think that you and Shelby are really friends.

    I can totally relate to your blog, since I've spent so many years being a journalist, then a journalist/writer and now a writer without the "journalist" attached. It's a weird feeling. But damn good. And I, too, am at the start of a new novel and I just love this part!

  2. "So now, when I take a quick break from figuring out why a hit man would interrupt a gun deal on the streets of West Palm Beach, Florida..."

    Not to worry. According to Polly, Floridians have been given a dispensation for all strange behavior.

    I think most writers go through a transition period before they start to think of themselves as writers. I can hardly wait until I go through mine...

  3. Great post, Jim, and you make me want to go out and find a trampoline.

    That sounds like a perfectly reasonable way to spend an afternoon in West Palm Beach, to me. Things are way more bizarre on the *other* side of Lake Worth....

  4. Let's see that TV piece. I went onto the WPTV website. They've posted video for "Is a Local Pet Shop Selling Sick Puppies?" And, "West Boca Teacher on National Bikini Team." And, "Special Report on Tummy Tuck Jeans."

    But no Jim Born story. We need someone to figure out how to post video here, or a link to it. Or Jim must be selected for the "National Bikini Team."

  5. Emily and I worked out a solution. Check the link to the post.

    YOu shold see the teacher who made the Bikini team Frankly, she deserved it.


  6. I know that writers go through hoops - sometimes enthusiastic ones - when beginning/planning a novel/story. I've gone through some of them myself when I have my writers hat on. But it's funny how close planning a story is to planning a painting - or in more complicated terms, an illustration.

    I like reading about how you guys create. The funny bits, the sad bits, the frustrated bits, and the punch-fist-in air bits. It reminds me that I don't live in a creative vacuum at all. 'cause sometimes we have all felt that way on a bad day. :-)

    Be well, you lot. :-D

  7. You know something? That trampoline looks pretty good about now. Move over Emily... :-)


  8. The whole being nice to us thing is a trick. We're on guard.

    And I watched the video once and I'd like to watch it again, but I can't stop laughing.

    "For Jim Born, the Glock and the ink cartridge are always loaded."

    That is frigging BEAUTIFUL. I expect that to be in every convention bio from now on.

  9. I didn't see the video until now, because I was working earlier, but Jeff's right. That line about the Glock and the ink cartridge being always loaded is a classic. And the Law & Order theme music cracked me up.

    Is Jeff right, are you buttering us up for something?

  10. Shelby, you idiot. I thought they really said that. I had to watch it again to realize that was your take on it.

    And Karen I didn't realize what the music was. I've never seen L&O I only watch JAG.


  11. Jim, they really did say that. I heard it...both times I watched the video. Perhaps they could put it on the cover of your next book?

  12. I believe we can all hear the truth at 2:02 in your little video...

    And it says so much about you that you only watch JAG.

  13. I go over to check your Amazon blog and find you've migrated to here. I must have missed the memo.

    Excellent - makes you that much easier to bug!

    Re: cop vs. writer - yeah, yeah. We all know you play whatever angle works best in the moment.