28 September, 2011


No, not the TV show, though I've heard it's quite amusing.

I find writing easy. The words flow (most of the time), and though it's tough coming up with good story elements, it's still an enjoyable process.

But people... people are the tough part. I realize that being a writer is not an utterly lonely, isolated process (although it totally can be, what with the rise of Internet self-publishing, e.g. KDP, PubIt!, etc.). But I've never been good with reaching out to people and making contact. Or at least, I'm not good at it now.

I have kids. They take a lot of time and attention. When they're asleep in bed, and I have a chunk of time to myself... well, that's when the wife steps in to suck up my time ;-) Joking aside, once that's done I want to use my free time to write.

It's easy to waste time screwing around on the Internet, and I worry that I'll get caught up in message boards, or something (e.g. the enjoyable Mythic Scribes forums, which I am greatly enjoying. Everyone's really polite so far!), and spend all my time bloviating at strangers instead of finishing my novel.

I spent a lot of time in those kinds of communities when I was younger. Back in my pre-Internet high school days, I ran a BBS from my bedroom, in order to commune with other nerds in the area. It was a great deal of fun, and I spent countless hours tweaking the software and chatting about nonsense. The nature of tying up my phone line (the best gift ever, thanks mom and dad!) meant that the little community we built could only grow so large.

The Internet scales a lot bigger. It's rare to find a good, small, open community that stays that way. If they're too good, they get too popular. If they're too big, you get the same problems you get in any large city: assholes and vandalism. There's a lot of small, open communities that are also useless and boring.

I'm just starting out in this business, but I'm committed to succeeding. Writing fiction is the one thing I truly enjoy doing more than anything else. They say bliss is making money doing what you love, and the FSM willing, I'll be able to some day make a living writing fiction, being my own boss.

It takes a lot of discipline and dedication, and I'm going to get to the point where it takes a lot of community, too. I'm envious of writers when I read their Acknowledegments page and see fifty names. "Good grief," I think. "I don't even know that many people, let alone that many I'd trust to help me with my writing."

Words don't decay. I can write a chapter now and it'll be just as good (or bad) a year from now. But relationships can decay, and that kind of upkeep is scary, and hard. Here's hoping I can get the practice I need.

26 September, 2011

Drowning Your Sorrows

Freddy: You may be a writer, honey.
Peggy: Really?
Freddy: You're arrogant.
(the guys laugh)
Don: You want another drink?
Peggy: I don't know.
Don/Freddy: Not a writer.
(everyone laughs)

I love drinking. I love writing. I'm slowly learning that doing both at the same time puts a bullet through the head of my productivity.

25 September, 2011

The Lure of Editing

Hello, world.

Editing is alluring. On the one hand, it's highly satisfying to go back and strip my prose down to the fewest number of words that can convey what I want to convey. Removing redundancies, choosing more precise adjectives, and grinding that paragraph down to a hard, diamond core is a nice feeling.

On the other hand... that's the very last thing I should be doing. It's a necessary step, yes, but it's still the very last step. It's a lot easier to attack a single paragraph and make it good, than it is to examine my story as a whole and realize that an entire 5,000-word chapter—or several—needs to be discarded, or rewritten from scratch, or (worst of all) moved to another point in the story and then partially rewritten. It's surgery of the mind, and it's terrifyingly difficult.

Distancing myself from declaring every first attempt "pretty good" is one of the fundamentals of good writing. My first attempts aren't any good. No one's is, except by occasional happenstance. Once I commit myself to the idea that writing is rewriting, that when I write a chapter for the first time I should wait a week, come back, and write it again from scratch without referencing the first pass... only then have I taken the first step.

And of course, just because I was able to do it once, doesn't make it any easier the next time.