No, these are seriously bad news.
So, you want to be a writer? Well, you’re gonna have to do the work.
Yeah, I know, sucks, right? Because you’ve had these stories in your head forever, and you want to be able to just dream them onto the page, and then everyone will come and shower you with gold and praise.
I’ve known many people with that idea of the writing life. I don’t know a single one who is successful. Not. A. Single. One.
Even the ones who are amazingly successful in their first book, because they have natural talent such that they barely need to work at it, and their books however flawed are still great reads, have failed. And those are very, very rare, so don’t go dreaming you’re one of them.
I will admit that young Sarah, who was in many ways a complete fool also thought this way. “I’ll publish my first novel, and people will be amazed at my talent.”
I did not have any natural talent. Or if I did, it was completely obscured by my lack of craft. But, having grown up amid largely uncreative people (as most of us do, because they are a majority) I thought I was a special unicorn and that the rambling, unstructured stories I made up were stunning and would attract everyone’s praise and money.
You’re allowed to think that way when you’re in your teens or a very young early twenties. You’re not allowed to stick with it forever though.
I mean, look at this special, special snowflake:
I’m reading that and thinking “uh. What will you actually do with your life? I mean, you’re not avoiding the grave, if you think that’s what you’re doing.”
As for sleeping for 2 hours. Other than being fricking nuts, what the heck is she saying? Because you know what? There are times you will sleep 2 hours. Granted, those are rare, because if you do that very long, it will kill you in no time. But there are times.
Just the other day, a friend whose child slept through the night for the first time told me “I had no idea how tired I was.”
Because if you have a baby, you’re going to sleep in two hour increments, for a time. If on top of that you’re trying to have a career (and you need that, to pay the taxes the government levies on families), you’re going to spend year sleeping 4 to 5 hours a night.
Is it good for you? Well, hell no. Don’t advise. Contains live bobcat, will not order again. My hyperactive self had never understood why sloth was a sin (aren’t sins supposed to be enjoyable?) until I hit the time in my life when I went to bed at midnight, still finishing chores, and was up at four thirty am. to write for three hours before the kids awakened.
Then once a month or so, Dan and I went to Denver, with the kids, and stayed in Embassy Suites. We didn’t have a TV at home, so the kids would wake up and be riveted to cartoons. And we slept. Oh, how we slept. Some weekends we barely did anything else. And it was glorious.
Again, I wouldn’t advise it.
But I want to point everyone I know, in whatever industry, doing whatever goes through a phase of working their asses off. Or at least they do if they want to amount to anything and end up better off in their middle years.
The “grind” is not the way to fame and fortune, alas. It’s just the way to get better, so you have a shot at supporting yourself with a modicum of security.
And before I hear any bullshit about capitalism or how terrible it is for humans, put a sock in it. Marx could have written that post up there. He went through life being a grifter extraordinare. Oh, sure, you can do that too, you just won’t be worth shit. And he of course projected outward and thought all humans were like him, and it was all a con game.
The only sorry thing, historically, is that Marx wasn’t beaten to death with a wet sock, so it lasted longer and he suffered more.
This morning I was reading a book going on about the plight and horror of workers in early industrial societies working 14 hours a day. F*cking idiots, pardon my Scroladian. People who write that bullshit are unmaking society and need to beaten to death with socks. Or at least be shaken until they have no teeth and come to their senses.
Because you know what? I grew up in a household in which only dad had a “real” job. I.e., he went out in the morning, came home in the evening. 12 to 14 hours for most of his life, and 6 hours on Saturday. He had the softest job in the household.
Grandma was by the time I knew her “a housewife.” (She had had a job when the kids were younger. Where she found the time heaven only knew, but she hand assembled and painted boxes for cosmetics. Poorly paid piecemeal work, but it was the depression and she wanted her kids to eat, I guess.) Which means she planted, weeded and harvested our backyard farm, with minimal help from the rest of us, looked after the “creation” — i.e. animals — and cleaned the house and did laundry with no modern conveniences.
Oh, and before some brainless twat who thinks that agricultural work is some kind of sinecure comes to say “oh, but they rested in winter” — put another sock in it. In winter, provident agricultural workers mended their tools, made new ones, and did some kind of work they could trade for what they could not make. Be it preserving food (a lot of it) or taking care of things shoved out of the way by the urgency of the planting season. (Sometimes for other people.)
Farmers who didn’t do this were known as “indigent” “on the parish rolls” or “Them people over there who are wastes of space.” Aka “Undeserving poor.”
I invite any snowflake who thinks that was an easy life to put a sock in it. You have no idea what people did to survive. NONE.
And before you start bleating about injustice and greed, let me point out injustice is what Uyghurs in Chinese slave camps suffer so you can have your i-pod and such abundance that you think you shouldn’t have to work, and should spend your days just enjoying yourself.
Working? Working is what humans do to survive. It’s what mice and cats and ants do to survive too. Ask any biology. Looking at a new plant or animal, they ask “how does it earn its living.”
But, you’ll say, writing is art. And art is inherently valuable.
Ah! Put two socks in it.
We are fortunate and highly privileged in relation to our ancestors, and owing to their insane labor that gave us enough surplus, that people like me (and some of you) can support themselves by working inside, in the soft, without having to root, hog or die. But that’s a rare situation, and an amazing one.
And one btw that will be forever lost if the idiots who think any work is wrong and they’re here on an extended vacay become a majority.
And I don’t want to hear it either, that inventing the electrical light made people work more. Grandma mended clothes by oil lamp, which can’t have been good for her eyesight. So did every other woman, because clothes were expensive, because machines were not that great and didn’t produce as much as we do now.
So, if you want to work inside and in the soft, set your mind to it that it’s going to be a lot of relentless work. Oh, not as much as your grandmother did. Not as much as her grandmother did, for sure. And it’s inside, and in the soft, and you have machines.
But you have to learn your trade, which means reading and analyzing what you read. (I’d read countless hours a day since the age of four, and yet my mind was virgin of structure, until I diagrammed plots. And I had no clue of the tricks of presenting a character well or badly until I studied that too. And let me tell you that you could do a lot worse than read Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. Then study it. It will help. I promise.)
And then you have to practice, practice, practice.
Yeah, that might mean sleeping five hours a night, for a while. I really don’t advise two hours. Though I assume that’s what Larry Correia did, when he was working full time, looking after small kids, and writing his first book. Yes, he got “lucky” with his first book. But from what I understand that “luck” was the result of working hundreds and hundreds of hours on his craft. Uphill. Both ways. Let me quote another bestseller friend on that “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
Which is true. And if you don’t put in the work, amazingly, luck never hits.
Now, you can put in the work and never get it back — talk to Dave Freer and me at times — but at least you make enough to survive, and if you’re still alive you might still get lucky.
And yes, indie means working just as hard at writing and, as Amanda Green talks about in her posts all the time, studying the trends, the new ways to do things, the covers, the–
What? You think trad is easier? Good Lord. You’re a sheep, waiting to be fleeced. In trad you have to do the writing, study the trends, study the editors, figure out which house steals less, (they all steal. And a lot of it, honestly is through tradition and incompetence, but where do you think those political graft advances come from?) get stuck with whatever cover they give you and be ready to promote, promote, promote, for which you need to know the market.
You’re human. You’re born to strife and work.
Maybe there is a sweet ever after, by and by. I don’t know. I am a believer, but I’m not good at imagining eternal life. What would you do with it? If everything is perfect, why be there?
Humans work. That’s what we do.
Everyone I know who is miserable and makes other miserable is like the person above, drifting through life, wanting to get away with doing nothing.
A life is an awful thing to waste. Don’t let that be you.