Monday, July 1, 2013

Sometimes You Write for the Rent

There's a line in the play, Emma's Child, where a visitor asks the main character where her husband is. Upstair writing. "The great American novel?" "No, this is pay copy."

In other words, sometimes you write for you, sometimes you write for the rent.

The last two weeks were all about the rent, so to speak. My boss was on vacation and tapped me to handle all the calls, sort through the email, assign stories and settle disputes (not that we have many, we're a pretty collegial bunch) etc. I was happy to do it because I could use a little extra income just now.

But it took a toll on the ol' WIP. I don't know about anyone else, but I need several hours to get any really work done, any flow going. Switching back and forth between the novel and the Source email and answering the phone and all of that doesn't help the old creative juices flow. I tried a few times, but I doubt I got 500 words done in the last two weeks, and I'll bet later today I'll throw half of them away. But at least it was on my mind. Sometimes that's the best you can hope for.

Also, in the last week read two really good posts in a writing blog call The Kill Zone. It's a collaboration by a dozen successful mystery writers and there's a lot of good advice in there that has nothing to do with thrillers.

We're All Long Tail Marketers Now was an encouraging and useful post on how self-publishing changes the calculus of how to make a success of writing. You don't need a number-one bestseller or Oprah's Book Club or selling the movie rights to make it – although all of those would be good and I wouldn't turn any of them down. It's about being in it for the long haul, and putting in the time and discipline to keep working your niche, keep producing. He's got a little graph and everything that makes it very clear what he's talking about. It changes the idea of what "success" means.

Another of the blog's authors wrote a really insightful piece on Are RulesMade to Be Broken? Short answer – Of course, but first you have to know what the rules are and, more importantly, WHY they are and what breaking them does for you. She uses as an example an author who pulled something that would be really annoying to me as a reader because s/he "wanted to do something different," wanted to stand out from the herd. The author did, but not in a good way.

The question you should be asking is NOT "How can I be different?" Your only concern should be, "How does doing this help me tell the story, and help the reader get what I'm trying to say?" Serve the story, not your ego.

Back to work.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I tried to make a living writing for a while and it didn't work out, but it is great that you can juggle both. Yeah, I sympathize with you, because I don't think I would have gotten a lot of writing done with constant emails coming in and with the phone ringing, but it sounds like you did really well.