The Madness of Writers

I have not forgotten elf blood, and it has not been dropped.

Here what’s been happening: I got very ill just before Christmas but since it was an infection and gradual, I didn’t know I was ill, just that stuff wasn’t getting done.

I finally got treatment two weeks ago. I also got news I’ll be having fairly major surgery March 16th, so – since we planned to put our house on the market this spring – we’re madly cleaning and fixing this house so it will be done by then and I won’t be tempted to do anything stupid during recovery.

It is probably a sign that I’m completely insane that I’m looking forward to the rest period as time to catch up on writing.

But writers are completely insane. Here are things I’ve done just because I’m a writer:

 

  • Convince my husband to go out to eat so that I have a captive audience for plotting.
  • Plotted an entire novel with my son while building a balcony.
  • Driven 200 miles out of our way (in Europe) to go see a place my characters needed to go to.
  • Ordered books from Amazon fr. For delivery to my parents in Portugal so I could research during the two weeks I was there.
  • Woken people in the middle of the night to plot (sorry, Amanda.)
  • Become the greatest living expert on a time period/subject to the point I sneer at scholarly dissertations.
  • Sewn costumes, so I get a sense of how things go together.
  • Goaded two SGA gentlemen into demonstrating how to behead a vampire with a Musketeer’s period sword (but not the one they used because that would have been impossible. It was a perforating weapon.)
  • Started an entire friendship to hear more about a condition you needed for a book (turned out a pretty good friendship, too.)
  • Skimped on groceries to have money to mail a manuscript.
  • Researched something so much your five year old thinks you’re having a love affair (though Robert informing a supermarket cashier I was in love with the Red Baron was worth the price of admission.)

The one thing you’ll be tempted to do because you’re a writer – and you shouldn’t – is think that there is a plot that makes sense to your life/efforts or that if you work harder you will surely get rewarded.

Life is not a book, and there is no guarantee of a happily ever after. I don’t say this to depress you but to remind you not to tell yourself “But I did everything right! How come it’s not working” you’re doing it wrong.

Perhaps what you thought you did right is out of date or just crazy – I spent years writing short stories because every how to book said to break in in shorts first. Which had been true… 20 years before. And I spent months ending stories with – 30 – which was never true in fiction.

The point of it is, though traditional or indie, nothing counts but the story. There is no secret hand shake. Contrary to rumor, if you write the word “snail” five times and turn around three times you’re not guaranteed a bestseller.

Quality of story tells. If you have a quality story and you’re discovered – which in both indie and traditional implies a certain amount of luck (provided you’re sending out/putting it up, of course) – then you’ll sell. (And by quality, at least for indie and Baen I mean readable, entertaining and well researched.)

And if your luck is out keep writing and honing your skill. As with buying a lottery ticket, if you buy 20 of them you’ll have a better chance. (In indie, a much better chance.)

Go forth – do the best you can and don’t be afraid of being a little crazy.

29 Comments

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29 responses to “The Madness of Writers

  1. Draven

    wait, you have people to go over plots with?

  2. Pat Patterson

    “Life is not a book, and there is no guarantee of a happily ever after. I don’t say this to depress you but to remind you not to tell yourself “But I did everything right! How come it’s not working” you’re doing it wrong.”
    They told me, in one of my primary wisdom sources, that I am not responsible for outcomes; I’m only responsible for doing the next right thing.
    And if we have to send fat ninjas to sit on you so that you won’t ruin your health, please tell us. .Do. .not. .hurt. .yourself.
    We love you.

  3. Eamon

    Snail…snail…snail…

  4. “Contrary to rumor, if you write the word “snail” five times and turn around three times you’re not guaranteed a bestseller.”

    Oh, thank goodness. I was getting dizzy.

  5. being crazy is not a concern for me. Getting stupid and clumsy is.

  6. Uncle Lar

    At least now with indie you can build up a quantity of work that stays on the market and continues to generate at least a bit of sales. And your new stuff may instill a desire in a new reader to go back and check out your earlier works. Gone are the days when if you did not “click” immediately with the buying public you watched your hard fought efforts vanish off the shelves not as purchases but as remainders.

  7. I also got news I’ll be having fairly major surgery March 16th, so – since we planned to put our house on the market this spring – we’re madly cleaning and fixing this house so it will be done by then and I won’t be tempted to do anything stupid during recovery.

    Post-C-section I am being driven to TEARS because I look around the house and am absolutely agitated by the sheer amount of work I was hoping to do over December/January to prepare for baby and now I can’t do ANY of it. I can’t bend over easily, and am exhausted all the time by the 3-hour milk schedule I have to keep (which is why I am up at 3 am) plus overworked my muscles and stressed them out so every so often I get severe back and leg cramps and muscles knotting up, so I am trying to rest as much as I can / catching up on sleep. So, I am kicking myself for listening to the guys instead of my instincts that were driving me up the wall in December to fix up the house NOW and then it’ll be ready, but they were telling me I had lots of time, you’re barely able to move you should rest because you want this baby, right?

    Yeah. Get that house stuff out of the way, and it won’t distract you later! It’ll be a series of tick boxes out of mind that no longer will worry you or weigh on your consciousness.

    It is probably a sign that I’m completely insane that I’m looking forward to the rest period as time to catch up on writing.

    <.<;;;; Do you know that when I kept getting put into hospital that's what I thought I'd be able to do? Except for one of the extended periods I was in there, I was not able to write at all due to the medications making me fall asleep. I hope you have much better luck than I did in catching up on writing.

  8. Martin L. Shoemaker

    “Life is not a book, and there is no guarantee of a happily ever after. I don’t say this to depress you but to remind you not to tell yourself “But I did everything right! How come it’s not working” you’re doing it wrong.”

    This is a variation of the mentality behind credentialism, academic and otherwise. People believe they’ve been handed a roadmap to success, and they’ve followed the map, so where is their success? This is a great business model… for those selling roadmaps.

    In general, success isn’t on the map. It’s buried under some hill in a far corner of the woods — and you don’t know which hill. You have to wander off the trail, figure out why the trail’s not working, and keep digging under hills. Some will pay off, and some won’t.

    Hard work is necessary, but not sufficient.

  9. Pat Patterson

    Baen’s contest. 25 word sci fi love story hint fiction?
    ‘Forty years ago, I gave you a check for a lifetime of love. I couldn’t cash it then, but now…’
    ‘You still can’t cash it.’