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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Seismic Shift

In five days, I become a full-time writer for the first time. Ever. As delightfully tingly as this prospect makes me, it also terrifies me. The onus of success will rest completely on me.  No longer will the convenient excuse of a day job feel like a safe justification for not writing. So how am I beating around this tree of inevitable awesome?

Re-organizing my writing space
Remember when coffee shops were my thing?  Yeah, I'm over that. Jockeying for outlet real estate. The cost. With a few exceptions when I'm stir-crazy, I plan to stay home and use the previously outrageous spending output on my career. And what, you may ask, will keep me from cleaning out the fridge's meat drawer when characters no longer cooperate? I don't have a counter-attack planned for that, but looking at something different while I write seems like a new chapter.

Ritual
Early on in my pursuit of writing fiction, I had this crazy ritual of curling up in a chair and reading for fifteen minutes to get words flowing through my head, then meditating on my story world for a few more. Then I'd stumble to the keyboard, somewhere between God-this-makes-me-sleepy and higher-process thought and pour words into the story. Though this ritual reminds me of a diesel engine-way too slow to warm up-and would mess with my now-established author voice, there is something to be said for the comfort and reliability this framework creates.

Accountability
Also early on, I frequented a chat room (back when we used to do that sort of thing).  This wasn't your average insult-laden yahoo room. It was back in the early days when specialty networks were establishing their online presence and trying to get their viewers to interact. There were a few men, mostly women, who encouraged my dream. To thank them, I wrote a serial with them as characters. A ghastly thing, really, about a group of mail-order brides who travel west and encounter outlaws and every variation on a cliche in historical romance, but it grew to something close to a hundred pages with thirty characters (all with their screen names, of course). With each successive Friday when the new installment would go up, the room began to fill until it eventually reached capacity. To say that audience devotion to my storytelling was heady is an understatement. Nothing before or since has had the accountability quotient like that serial. Self-imposed deadlines aren't enough. I need industry deadlines-contests or requesting agents or contracts or until writing comes full-circle and I'm back in that role of chat room Nora with salivating readers.

You might be wondering what ended this serial, why it only reached a hundred pages if it was going so well. The guy I'd written in as the hero began to think it was real with me, the author, as the heroine. For him, reality was a blurred line. He smashed his computer in the forest one night, or so I heard.

Reassessing
What works? What is a time drain? Things must be shaken, not stirred, to get fresh results.

Advice is welcome. How would you deal with this seismic shift of time to pursue your dream?

4 comments:

Sherry Isaac said...

Finally made it back through the telephone booth. I remember my pre-DSDB days with Margie Lawson, when I 'went to work' (three feet from my bedroom door) in my jammies.
What helped me was to look at my writing career as a job. By setting my alarm, having breakfast and shower and clothes and in office chair by 8 am, just like when I had a 'real' job, my outlook changed. When I acted like I took this path seriously, I produced more, became more accountable.
Then my book launch and blog tour and all those hours spent on necessary social media. Caught myself wandering around with coffee cup, in pajamas, at 2 in the afternoon. ACK. Cracked the whip and opened my WIP.
Reverse goal-setting helps too. When I know I have to do x much each day if I want to reach that goal of having my book revised in 6 months, I have no excuses. I know what the workload is, the expectation for each day, and t he consequences if I shrug it off.
Loooong answer, (hey, I'm a novelist) but I hope you find some insightful nugget.
EEEEE! Writing full-time. An author's dream. Welcome to your world, embrace the keyboard, breathe in the HEA, the GMC and the WIP!

Charles Gramlich said...

First, good luck to the extreme. Second, I kind of go through this during the summer. Suddenly I go from a full time job to having about three months to do little but write. It has been wonderful and I have gotten so much done it's not even funny. And I get to sleep too!

Pamela Cayne said...

I know you're going to find your space and your juju and just tear your writing up. My jealously is eclipsed only by my cheering and wishes for TOTAL AWESOMENESS!!!!

L.A. Mitchell said...

@Sherry...can I still wear my pajama bottoms? They are directly tied to my creativity :)

@Charles...you give me encouragement and hope. Thanks!

@Pam...such a vote of confidence from my peeps. Love you guys :)