25 Nov 2009

Because I’m not busy enough

Okay, I’ve been too busy to blog here in a month. (Mea culpa. I do what I can.) And now I’ve decided to take on another project, another challenge to my time. What, and why?

Monica Valentinelli is someone I met through Facebook and Twitter, and whom I have found to be an unremittingly interesting person. She knew she couldn’t fit NaNoWriMo into her schedule this year and decided to lay out a December writing challenge as a substitute NaNo for herself and to those around her. (Misery loves company, Monica?) Less daunting than NaNo, you set your own wordcount goal and also pledge what you’re going to do as punishment if you don’t write on a given day.

I’m planning on 20k words. And will put in time cleaning my house and yard if I don’t.

Writing by hand

No, not really my hand

Time to Write
Twenty thousand words isn’t much. I can easily turn out 1000+ words in a morning’s session standing on my head. By the same token, the last tale I finished, at 17K, took me most of 4 months. I used the Zelazny Edict on many days (“Three lines a day. More is good, but that is the minimum acceptable.”) when I was pressured for time. I have a LOT on my plate right now, and usually do, and days I get “a morning’s session” can be few and far between.

Most days I don’t meet the Zelazny minimum. After all, I don’t get paid to write fiction as a matter of course. I have been paid for my stories, yes — rarely, and just a few here and a few there — and I was a member of SFWA for a number of years until I got so fed up with their craptastic politics that I threw up in my mouth every time I looked sideways at them. I want to write more, and write more that’s salable. But fiction isn’t my first focus. Alotting time to write suffers in consequence.

What I Write
I am paid to write and blog for Library Journal. They get my attention first. I am a correspondent to make Lovecraft blush. I don’t get paid for that but it consumes huge amounts of my time. Sometimes that body of correspondence results in paying work of other kinds, or relates to important non-paying projects like helping on the development of Phoenix Library’s Digital Studio. I have an art and an editing project in the wings. But fiction comes low on the totem pole, usually when I simply cannot NOT write a tale buzzing in my brain.

I have had a standalone novel I’ve been poking at for about a year now. Character studies, first chapter or two, sketchy outline. The tale intrigues me but the process scares me. Everyone writes a shitty first novel, it seems. I don’t want to write a shitty first novel but the only certain way to do that is never to write one at all. (I admit, I ducked the issue by writing a not-bad fanfic novella of around 45K. It taught me a lot. Now it’s time to put away the toys and get back to standalone work.)

Jakrista & the imp (from first publication)

Jakrista & the imp (from first publication)

I also have another story of uncertain length about Jakrista and the imp, fantasy characters who are in print in a 12k story out there, in the anthology Of Dice and Pen. This new tale is mostly a pile of notes and a spark. Jakrista and Carodag’s Sparrow are fun characters to write, easy casual first person with humor and snark. If the novel stymies me, I’ll play in this sandbox. I may do both.

In Progress or Kidding Myself?
The half-generated stuff I describe above is pretty typical fare for a not-writing-focused writer or wannabe writer. I’m not entirely sure what I am. I generate a hell of a lot of words every day, I can spin a good tale, but whether I’m really the writer I want to be — I’m still not sure. I probably won’t be sure until I have a formally, properly published novel in my hands with my name on the cover.

But that’s part of the point here. Monica’s challenge struck me as the right time to follow through on some of my good intentions. I’ve always been one to respond to a deadline, to a challenge. I hope to wind up with a solid start on a couple tales I’ve wanted to tell for awhile.

Maybe I’ll just wind up with a clean house in time for the New Year.

One Response to Because I’m not busy enough

  1. Pingback: Let the December 2009 Writing Marathon Begin! | MLV Writes