Monthly Archives: February 2013
Did that word business in the title make you look twice? Maybe, maybe not. As a writer, I think in terms of art and business, and I wanted to write a bit about how that works for me and how I make decisions about what to write and when (assuming the muse doesn’t bonk me on the head with an idea I cannot resist). My mojo for putting new words on the page is waning these last couple days anyway, so goofing off here seems like a good idea. 😉
I’ve posted recently about my plan to write 75K words by June 20th (and complete the projects I need to that add up to that 75K. I didn’t just pick that number from the sky. Tee hee). Well, I decided yesterday to change my plan a bit to 65.5K words by June 20th. The main reason is that two of the short pieces I’d planned to write are not ones I want to push myself to get done by the end of June. There is really no reason to, so I’ve cut those out of the total. Why stress myself out if I don’t need to? If I do have extra time on my hands, I might get to those projects. Or I might work on something totally different.
How did I come to this decision? I considered a few things:
1) When these publications I was going to write by the end of June will come out. I don’t have control over these particular works–in terms of when they are published. Based upon others yet to come out and many past delays, I don’t see any way they would be released by the end of 2013, even if I did have them done in June or even July. So, why worry about rushing what I can’t rush anyway? I still have completed works that are yet to come under contract. I feel like I’m way ahead on these serials and am just…waiting on other folks to turn wheels that I cannot. Anyway, writing these serials in a rush amounts to worrying about money I will not see this year (gasp. Yes, I wrote something about money and writing!). My time is better spent on other projects if I do complete everything on my list.
2) What I feel like writing right now. I am really enjoying working on the Sorrowmoor serial set, so I’m going to roll with those and with some pen name work I’m doing–at least through June. When those serials are done, they need to be formatted into a single volume for sale as well. Then, I have some other ideas I’d like to spend time on.
3) My motivation to push myself on these particular serials has really flagged. One reason I dig self publishing is the control I have over how books are published and when they come out. My motivation is high to get my stuff out…when I want it out. I like to have a new release every month–if I can get it. Since I write short, that is a reasonable goal. Right now, that is happening since I have a Kickstarter serial set. I don’t like my work to be sat on for long periods of time, especially when these stories are short serials. That makes no sense to me. So, I make decisions accordingly.
4) I don’t like to feel whiny and needy. So, I avoid that by moving ahead myself on what I can do. I have folks who do work for me on the self publishing end, and my deadline is theirs. Nothing stops me from pushing harder there when other things are stalled. The days of having to wait for publishers to move are over–unless we choose to work with publishers. I do work with publishers, and I self publish. Such flexibility and choice is both freeing and terrifying to many people. I find it quite liberating in a business that can be frustrating.
How about you? How do you make big decisions in your writing business or other business?
For the past couple of years, I’ve been pretty fearless when it comes to my writing and also the path I’ve chosen for publication and how I get my books out into the world. This stupidity or stroke of genius (depending upon how you look at writing and publishing) has enabled me to write what I wanted to and ship it or put it out there. I have a lot of content in online stores (and in a brick and mortar or two as well), and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished so far–even when I really didn’t know what I was doing. I tweak my plans a lot and have no problem doing so. I feel fine with change and go full speed ahead, generally.
So, this emotion I’m feeling lately is new to me. It has crept up big time in the last week. Namely, it’s a big old, ugly monster with yellow teeth that sits perched on my shoulder and pipes up every ten minutes or so while I write. “Hey. Are you sure this serial is any good? You should probably stop now or erase that and rewrite that page.” I try to brush the voice off, and most of the time, I’m successful. As you might imagine, though, the voice of the Fear Monster wears on me. I confided in a friend that I wasn’t sure if what I’d written in the last couple of weeks or so sucked or not. She compared my pregnant and brain fogged state to being on different drugs and not knowing if what you are doing is crazy or not.
Yeah. I guess I can see that comparison.
So, what do I do? What do you do when the monster in the closet that usually slobbers under cover of darkness at night in your worst dreams comes out and taps you on the shoulder?
What I am doing is writing through the fear. So what if what I’ve completed isn’t good? Editing will work. I am relying on my editors to tell me if anything crazy happens that I don’t see. They have done so in the past, and I’m sure they will now and in the future. I have a feeling, though, that this fear is the result of some crazy hormonal thing. Then again, a good dose of fear isn’t a bad thing. It’s keeping me sharp. I’m re-reading a passage, rather than breezing through a first draft.
Perhaps an excerpt from “In a Dark Time,” a poem by Theodore Roethke, describes the on-going battle with fear:
A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is–
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
Fear is part of life. Today, I chose to walk through it and to bat the monster away. I came out on the other side. Words on paper and an uneasy sense of accomplishment were the product of my being afraid that what I was writing was not good enough. And I’m okay with that. How about you? How do you handle fear in your life, art, or work?
I planned for this day and set up a daily word count and accountability post on Facebook in hopes of beating the clock. From my first pregnancy, I remembered having brain mush. This is the state where you sit around and go Duuuuhhhh even though you want to be writing. Or you do stuff around the house, but your brain is just not working right; you walk into a room and forget why you are there. Today, I searched for my shoes for almost ten minutes. Yeah, not fun.
Here was my plan to make progress before mush brain (I was hoping that was an if!) struck. My writing schedule looked like this from the beginning of the year: 75000 words by June 20th– 12 short serials done by then (11 are done now), 5 serials in a set done (on #4 now) and four more serials in the Montmoors set done (1.75 are done). Almost 49000 words written. Not bad for having started this plan Dec. 10, 2012. Now I’m glad I did.
I thought I was just unmotivated to write yesterday. We’ve all had those days where we were just meh on the whole prospect of putting words on the page. I managed to eek out 200+ words before bed anyway. Not my goal, but better than nothing, certainly.
Then I sat down this afternoon and felt the same way about writing. I just couldn’t seem to focus. I am one of those just do it, power through it people. I couldn’t seem to make progress. So, I did some business end stuff while fuming about not getting new words in on my serial. Then it hit me. Uh oh. Mush brain is here. The alien has invaded. My brain is toast. Or at least toast-y.
So, what will I do? Write as much as I can. Go easy on myself and figure my brain very well might have the consistency of pea soup for a year or better. Yeah. That long while massive growth happens for baby and my brain changes again as a mommy (pretty cool stuff actually if you read about it!). I will still be able to write some. I might even have some spectacular days between now and the end of June. I sure hope so, but I’m fine with things, however they happen.
Another writer I respect quite a lot, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, has written about the category of life events/writing events that pregnancy brain (what’s the word? Seriously, I’m thinking hard through the fog) occupies. She calls these events in life that upset our writing schedules life rolls. They could be death, illness, trouble at home, new baby, divorce, an unexpected job loss, or any manner of things that really knock us off balance or make us roll around for a while, trying to get our bearings–happy or sad events. Her advice? Roll with it. Do the best you can, and don’t beat yourself up. Get back to writing when you can. Sounds good to me. From today on, I’m still going to go for my word count goal. Will I make it most days? I don’t know. My day job also needs to get done and will come first, obviously. So, I can’t say, but at least I’ll have tried. And when my brain shouts, “enough!,” I’ll retire to watch House of Cards or to hang with the fam or do some baby related thing. After all, though we might like to think biology no longer applies to us in this post post modern or whatever age it is, it still does. And it can be a real force to be reckoned with.
I’d love to know about your life rolls. Have you had them? How did they impact your writing or other pursuits? How did you handle them with grace (or kicking and screaming as the case may be)?