My Writing Life: 8

In my previous blog I mentioned that researching Women at Play was an intense, four-year affair, and that it forever colored my attitude toward writing nonfiction. The nonfiction subjects I chose after Women at Play were individuals: Jack Graney on the one hand, Earl Derr Biggers on the other.

Everything about Women at Play was intense and time-consuming, not only during the research stage, but also during the writing stage (see How I Wrote a Book in 92 Days), and then during the after-publication marketing stage. 

Because Women at Play was the first book on the story of women who played hardball (other titles were published in 1994), I spent almost two years speaking on the subject of women in baseball in general, and the women I wrote about in particular. I appeared on TV, on radio, in high schools, colleges, and public libraries. I traveled to bookstores and other venues in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even Texas.

So much of my time was spent traveling, as well as writing about and talking about Women at Play that I didn’t write another book for three years. This was very, very unusual for me: I love to write, and I love to write books in particular.  

Earl Derr Biggers

Women at Play was published in March 1993, and I was able to start writing again in early 1996, or thereabouts. What I ended up writing during the rest of the 1990s was children’s books (probably because they are short!) and magazine articles. Two of the children’s books I wrote in the mid-90s were published in the first decade of the 21st century: Waltur Buys a Pig in a Poke and Waltur Paints Himself into a Corner. Others are still unpublished.

And, as a result of all the marketing I did for Women at Play, I wrote more magazine articles. Not on women in baseball, but on other subjects. The most important and long-lasting of these was the 4,800-word article I wrote on Earl Derr Biggers, published in Timeline: The Magazine of the Ohio Historical Society, in 1998. It was from this article that I eventually came to write a book on Earl Derr Biggers in 2018. And because Biggers was a Harvard grad, I also wrote an article on him for Harvard Magazine, published in 1999.

When the Harvard article was published in 1999, I remember thinking: Wow, what a decade. I wonder what I’ll be writing in the next century.

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You can read all about Biggers and his six Charle Chan novels in Charlie Chan’s Poppa: Earl Derr Biggers.

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