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Perhaps what you thought you did right is out of date or just crazy – I spent years writing short stories because every how to book said to break in in shorts first.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.