Confessions of a Once Full Time Writer...
byon October 19th, 2010 at 04:43 AM (441 Views)
I'm one of those people who thrives on being overly busy. If I'm not writing, I'm editing. If I'm not editing, I'm doing homework. If I'm not doing homework, I'm at one of my kids' schools. If I'm not at one of my kids' schools, I'm on the phone with a teacher/client/employer/agent/critique partner. And so on, and so forth.
I used to think this was a good thing--a "Look, ma! I'm successful!" kind of thing.
Yeah, not so much.
Now that I'm at the stage in my writing career where I don't have time to write books for the hell of it, I'm starting to reevaluate my all-writing-all-the-time approach to life.
Some questions I'm asking myself:
- Does the manuscript in front of me have a realistic shot at being published (high concept, fits my brands, has a commercially viable hook, etc)?
- Do I honestly think I could sell all six of the books I'm capable of pumping out in a year? (no)
- Am I talented enough to even bother trying to come up with six high concept plots in a year? (definitely not)
- Is the not-quite-high-concept-but-really-shiny new idea I suddenly want to work on more important than my family, who I completely and totally neglect every time I sit down to write? (not unless it's going to buy them a bigger house or put them through college)
- Am I throwing away my GPA the year I graduate for nothing? (currently, yes)
Thinking about these questions and analyzing the type of author I am, I realize I've been going about this whole writing thing all wrong. I write best in spurts. Shove me into a boot camp or sign me up for NaNoWriMo and I'll hand you a book at the end of the month. I'm prolific like that.
But here's where I get into trouble. It takes me a month to do the crit partner thing and let my agent take a whack at the plot. By the time she wheedles out all the nifty threads I left unexplored and I simmer on her ideas, it takes another month to revise and resubmit. My books are deeper because of this process.
A process I destroy by moving on to another book before the last has completed its course, thus diluting my focus.
This is where I've been going wrong--I try to write all day, every day. Can't imagine doing anything else. I just completed the fifth major revision on the book that landed me my agents, and yet here I am, thinking I can hop right into a book in a totally different genre, with a male protagonist and a voice I'm still uncomfortable with. Is it any wonder it's going waaaaay slower than usual?
I made myself (and my husband and my agent) a commitment this week. Writing is no longer a full-time job. I will do my three spurts per year, complete my edits, and take a break. Wash, rinse, repeat. That month or two between books, I'll spend catching up on quality family time, homework, editing work, and household chores.
It hasn't been fun. For two days, I've meandered around my house with a million non-writing related things to do feeling totally lost.
I need this, though. My family needs it.
My career needs it.