But what we don't tell our interlocutors is the tactile pleasure of writing crime fiction. For those who think this is one of those cerebral pastimes, akin to lounging with a box of Godiva chocolates, I offer the image of working a clay sculpture. I can't speak for other writers but I derive a deep satisfaction from working out the various physical aspects of a crime novel--the specific details of a landscape and how that will affect the protagonist (can she jump a fence, get through heavy underbrush without getting gored by thorns, walk the bank of a swollen river), the timing of activities she only learns about afterwards.
I write crime fiction without an outline, but I write it as though I were living the experience of it. For me writing crime fiction is one step from the real physical experience, and working out some of the details on paper is like working a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, with little slips of paper holding clues that have to be arranged just so on my desk.
So when that pesky student in a creative writing program is describing the wisdom of the writer and superiority of certain publishers, I'm finding that scarf tied around her neck a convenient device for a short story about strangling someone between the salad and the main course.
A friend once pointed out to me (which was pointed out to her by her son the doctor), there is no such thing as the life of the mind. We are all just cells--physical, percolating cells making it all up as we go along. (Well, he was more elegant than that but you get the idea.) And I like making it up on paper.