Monday, December 22, 2008

Round 2: writaaaaaaaaaaar!

The novel grew quite a bit this year. I'm not a good writer, I don't track my daily word count at all, so I have no idea by how much it grew, only that it grew. But then 7wishes kicked off, and a whole lot of shit hit the fan, and it ground to a halt again. Poor novel. Soon, baby, soon.

As stated earlier, due to 7wishes I wrote 42 short stories this year. I don't think it can be said enough that such an undertaking is INSANE and I will not be repeating it, even if I didn't exactly do it deliberately this time around. I don't know what the word count is, I'd guess around 40k.

It became pretty obvious from this that I am incapable of working on more than one project at a time.

My one proper print story featured in ASIM #34, and I admit I totally failed to pay any attention and read any reviews, so I've no idea how it was greeted.

Ann invited me across the threshold (I'm like a vampire, you know, you only need ask and THEN YOU NEVER GET RID OF ME) and I'm now an editorial assistant for Weird Tales, something which continues to surprise me. I also critiqued four and a half novels this year; two of them are on the shelves, one will be on the shelves in a year, and the other I expect on the shelves at some point.

Behind the scenes, it was an even better year for learning about my own writing mechanics. The novel took off because I found myself entirely incapable of distracting myself; living in the city with no TV, internet, not even a desk to put the Decepticon on in order to play games, what's a girl to do with herself? gussy up and hit the bars! STAY INSIDE. WRITE. That brief stretch was all it took to teach myself how to block, really block, distractions, and more importantly, the urge to be distracted, out.

It was a process I'd half started a couple of years ago, when I bought Eddie. Having two computers seems overkill, but keeping writing to one and play on the other works perfectly for me. Eddie is the writing machine. The Decepticon is the slackassery machine. And never the two shall meet. I even bought this particular desk because it was long enough to fit the two on without the spaces overlapping, and without loosing the ability to look out the window. I've found my ideal set up. It took 27 years, but a secret once learned is never unlearned.

7wishes was a veeeeeeery interesting ride. Something that started as a personal exercise in distraction of another kind turned into something else, I don't know what. It never stopped being personal, but in my mind, the idea as a whole came to belong to you readers as much as it did to me. That, perhaps, was a half-taste of what it is to be an established, lauded and much-stalked author. Have my stories ever been as read? They were well chopped up at Clarion South by at least 17 other people, but there's a different mentality involved between submitting a rough draft for critique and essentially self-publishing a finished piece for anyone passing by to read. These aren't the traditional paths of waiting for circulation, reading, and reviewing. What reactions there were, were posted here - feedback was pretty much instantaneous. I didn't have time to fall out of love with the story. Given the long time lines involved in the publishing industry, it's a turnaround I don't think many have the chance to experience.

Some of you I know, but a lot of you I don't know, and you have no investment in any sort of relationship and thus no need to pander to my ego. You've stuck around and read and read a bit more, and that alone says more than any positive comment.

I had an enormous tanty a couple of years back. I was all "AAARUGH I suck at writing I am a failure I will never be a proper writer ARRRRUGH writing sucks I don't care any more AAAARUGH" etc etc etc. This was triggered partly due to post-Clarion South stress and a prolonged period of unemployment and depression. For a while there it was quite confronting. If I wasn't a writer, if writing was no longer the point of my life, then what was? That's a void I'd never experienced before. It's not all that pleasant. Still, I'm not a writer, and writing is not the point of my life, and I think I've made my peace with that, at last, and now I write because I want to. I'm not pushing myself to do it because It Is My Goal In Life. The onus of my future has been kicked into a gutter. I'm not a writer. But I write anyway.

I still can't tell you why. I don't know.

Probably because I don't know how to do anything else.

Now that my head knows what it's doing, and I know what I'm doing...I'm having a right fucking godddamn bugger of a time doing it. Ben Peek wrote about some of the less than stella aspects of the writing life, in that he chose time to write, and thus isn't in a great financial position. I'm the opposite; I have money fine, but no time to write. My job is a set 40 hours a week, there is never any over time or staying back an extra hour or so to finish a job, so I have more time than most full time workers. I can squeeze in a good few hours or so of writing on some days, no writing at all on others, and it only takes a couple of engagements to slaughter a week's output. Christmas has kicked my progress in the nuts. My word count is curled up in a fetal position, red-faced and crying as Christmas gears up for another kick and New Years is cracking its knuckles in the background.

I hope (five million fingers crossed) that having a 9-5 mon-fri job will at least let me develop a set routine, something shiftwork never allowed. Six months of that will be an adequate trial and if it hasn't made a significant difference to my output, well, we'll have some thinking to do.

If you really want to be a writer, then go get yourself an understanding partner and live with them. Shared costs makes a difference, and shared household living errands makes a difference. Plus, if they're really nice, they'll make you cups of tea.

Or you could just not be a writer.

Actually, if you really want to be a writer you have to die in obscurity. That's doing it properly. To make this easier, I'm going to establish my own nation within Australia. It will be called Obscurity, where all writers come to rest, not unlike an elephant's graveyard. Tortured artists will be lining up and sending me inflammatory letters, demanding to know who I am to choose who does and does not get to die in Obscurity, after all, I'm not even a writer.

Pretty good year for someone who isn't trying.


  1. +++It will be called Obscurity, where all writers come to rest, not unlike an elephant's graveyard. Tortured artists will be lining up and sending me inflammatory letters, demanding to know who I am to choose who does and does not get to die in Obscurity, after all, I'm not even a writer.+++

    That's a story hook right there :)

  2. I'm not a writer. But I write anyway.

    That's really good. I wish I'd thought of it myself, maybe about this time last year. I went through this existential crisis thing, where I was thinking about giving up writing. I didn't, but maybe that's because it wasn't the writing I really wanted to give up.

  3. Yeah, writing is a dirty, dirty, dirty habit, heh.

  4. Cups of tea are important.

  5. I'm with you in being not a writer who writes anyway. If I don't think about it that way I get peculiar.

    7 wishes was brilliant, and now you have a bunch of people who know about your work, some of whom will be interested in what you might publish further down the line.

  6. Maybe we should start the revolution for people who write but aren't writers, heh.

    I do think it's a very easy trap to fall into, especially early in a writer's life, to be too caught up in defining and being 'a writer' and so lose sight of the actual act of writing, which becomes an almost separate and distracting entity.

    Actually, I think I'll put that in my side bar...

    And sanks again. : )

  7. It doesn't help that the minute you publish something people who don't know you start making a deal of the fact that you're a writer -- often with the kindest intentions -- and the writing gets magnified and can become a source of anxiety. It took me a stupidly long time to realise that it really doesn't matter what strangers -- and even friends, sometimes -- think or say.

    (My human verification word this time is "conte', French for "tale" :-) )

  8. I suspect it's something that the majority of writers go through, dealing with the two spheres of Writer and Writing (apart from those super intense focused writers who probably aren't aware that people are talking about them anyway).

    I didn't know conte was an actual word. Yay! Learned something today!