How Do You Answer “What Are You Working on Next?”

Mary-Jane reading

Mary-Jane reading

What are you working on next? is a question that always takes me by surprise (which is why it’s good advice for writers to have an answer prepared). Words gurgle in my throat. If I can’t change the subject, I mumble something about an essay or short story or blog post.

I want to say My Call to the Ring’s release date is not until September 2012.

It was November 2006 when Deirdre Gogarty handed me pages of true stories she’d written about Ireland, family, and her hard-fought battles to become a champion boxer. In an instant, I agreed to co-write her memoir. The chance of a lifetime had arrived. Like a pugilist who’d trained for an opportunity to fight, I’d been flexing my finger muscles for years. I immersed myself in our collaboration.

But there was a tradeoff—I lost volumes of family time.

Two months after I agreed to co-write Gogarty’s memoir, I sped to Women & Children’s hospital to welcome my granddaughter, Mary-Jane, into the world. She wailed and cooed. I rushed back to work.

And—pfffft!—she turned five.



Her brother, Milas, clocked nine.

My mother, eighty-five.

And I no longer recognize my hands when I type.

What next?

I’ve been sparring with guilt for missing many of my grandchildren’s milestones. But I’ve concluded it was worth it to hand down examples of sacrifice and perseverance—Deirdre’s and mine—to teach them to follow their calling in life.

Now I’m back to work on those essays and short stories and blog posts. But I’m also taking numerous, long walks with my dog on the family farm while pondering clichés about time.

The way it never stops.

Or turns back.

The way it flies.

And since it often gets lost,

I wonder where it hides.

Nip-Nip hiding

Nip-Nip hiding


Posted in Darrelyn Saloom, Guest Post.

Darrelyn Saloom is co-author of My Call to the Ring with champion boxer, Deirdre Gogarty. It was released in summer 2012 by Glasnevin Publishing in Ireland. Most of her time is spent south of I-10 in Louisiana, on a farm with her husband, a cat, a blind dog, and thoroughbred racehorses.

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[…] After five and a half years immersed in a memoir collaboration, I am often asked, “What next?” I grapple with the question and come to terms with guilt over lost time with family in a guest post for Jane Friedman’s blog, Being Human at Electric Speed: […]

Jenny Fickey

I have goosebumps.

What a powerful lesson & example for your grandchildren. Your dedication & sacrifice is inspiring.

Can’t wait to read what you are working on next…no pressure. 🙂


So beautiful, Darrelyn. Touched me in a lot of ways. I find myself staring at my hands when I write. A lot. And not recognizing them. I’m often watching my own children grow from behind a laptop and there’s guilt, sure. But when I hear them talk about me to their friends . . . just hearing this creative life defined in their words helps so much. Thanks for a gorgeous post.

Dave Malone

I like what you said, Laura, about the creative life. I read so much online that is platform, platform, platform, or Amazon, Amazon, Amazon–what a nice respite and to be reminded of how the writing life often works. And despite the costs, how ultimately satisfying it is. Thanks, D!


Can so relate! But kudos to you for finding and following your deepest desires; they’ll inspire family and others. Write on! 


Love the photo of Nip-Nip!!!


It’s nice to see a post by you again, Darrelyn.  We make our choices through life and the point is (IMO) to have a few regrets as possible at the end of it.  (that’s Edith Piaf’s policy and I aspire to that) I’m not as hesitant at telling people I write now.  I mentioned the other day to a creperie in our area that I will mention them on my blog when I write about spots in Vancouver worth visiting (aside from the usual).  They were extremely pleased and even posed for a photo shot (always have camera at hand).… Read more »


Wow! September of this year? That’s right around the corner. Seems like yesterday I learned the memoir had been picked up by a publisher. And so we are back to the time flies, cliche, eh? My bet is that you’ll next be hired to write the screenplay, and my hunches are rarely wrong 🙂

[…] a nice bit of synchronicity, Darrelyn Saloom’s piece on Jane Friedman’s blog–How Do You Answer, “What Are You Working on Next?”–addresses time, that thing those other authors Rachelle must have been writing about […]


I love all your writing, Darrelyn. And I will buy your book. I think you deserve to answer the question about “what’s next” with “you’ll soon have the chance to buy a copy of my book or host me at a reading.” 🙂 That will shut up the merely curious and remind a true fan of a chance to help you. Take lots of those walks. You are absolutely right that your grandchildren can learn as much from seeing you happy and successful as an author as from attending every recital or soccer match. The best gift a grandparent can… Read more »

Dawn Herring

It can be difficult to come to grips with the disappointing side of important decisions we make. How we invest our energy is paramount to our happiness. I’m glad to know your writing energy was processed into a successful venture. Congrats to you!
You have an adorable grandchild and a mischievous feline; those felines do love to hide under those blankets, don’t they? 

Enjoy your farm and your family and those lovely walks. 

Be refreshed, 
Dawn Herring
Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition

cynthia newberry martin

Yes, where does it go? I no longer recognize my hands either. 

But I also no longer feel like me if I don’t have time to write. 

Perhaps these days, with the pressure off, you’re merely righting a balance gone too far in one direction. Enjoy the long walks. Too soon I imagine you’ll be swept up again…

Anthony Caplan

Definitely on my to-read list. Sounds awesome. 

Anthony Caplan

Great upcoming book. 


Examples and lessons for all to follow.   

Thanks for sharing those personal feelings about your experiences co-authoring a book while trying to maintain family relations.  

Kudos to you, my friend!


Thanks, Darrelyn for sharing this with us. You are a great role model for your grandchildren. Even though you might get a lump in your throat for what you might have missed, you can rest assured that your little cupcakes know their grandma is fabulous!
I hear what you are saying about time also, I can’t believe it’s been over three years since we opened the restaurant. I feel like I just blinked and it all happened.
I hope I get to take one of those long walks on the farm someday!


What an inspiring story. I can’t wait for the release. You must be so proud! I’m sure Mary-Jane and Milas are so proud of their grandma.


Dear D
I so like your blog site and what you’ve written. The pictures are great also.