Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This Writing Job

Most jobs in life are noted for their sameness - you do the same thing day after day, week after week, or things go in cycles but are usually predictable. While many people declare they hate their jobs (95% according to a recent survey), they would probably say what they hate is the boredom and sameness. Yet, paradoxically, this is the very reason why they don't quit. Sameness is safe, predictable, secure. You work your hours and you go home at the end of the week with a nice paycheck that pays the bills and buys food.
Writing? Never the same. Just because one story or novel worked out well, that's no guarantee that the next one will be easier, or even work at all. If you write the same story over and over, the critics will lay into you and you'll be labelled unadventurous or boring or predictable. If the new book is deemed of a lesser quality than the previous, you'll get it in the neck for that too.
Money comes and goes. Usually, it goes. Last year's bestseller is this year's remainder, and that healthy royalty cheque dwindles alarmingly, so that you start to think about going back to waitressing or driving taxis.
Output surges and dies. One year you produce three books, the next year(s) you strike a story that just won't work and several years later you have to abandon it. No product, no sales, no advances, no royalties.
The exciting flush of the first draft dies under rewrite after rewrite after rewrite. Your agent stops answering your calls. But you have to keep writing. What else can you do?
Actually, you can stop. I've known several writers who have written three or four novels, then gone off to do something else. I've known talented writers who decided it was all too hard. No one is knocking on your door, begging for your latest manuscript. No one cares much whether you write or not. Your mother keeps hinting that you should get a real job.
Depressed yet?
Not me. Not right now. Oh, there are times when I yearn after my old waitressing job (except now I'm such a cranky person I'd probably be a reincarnation of Carla from 'Cheers', only worse). But the lure and promise of the story idea not yet written, the vision of the story that haunts me for several years until I just have to write it no matter what, the high that comes from having written, the way in which my own words can surprise me at times as if it wasn't really me who wrote them ... there are a million reasons not to give up, and they are all to do with writing. Not with getting published. That's the honey bee on the hibiscus (well, you didn't think I was going to say 'icing on the cake', did you?).
That's my quiet Wednesday evening rumination after lunch today with my writers' group, the best group of women writers I'll ever know. They're my Christmas present every Wednesday afternoon, all year.
Write on, girls.

2 comments: said...

Want to be part of a THANK YOU card for Miss Snark?

Return a picture of yourself if possible NOT IN AN ATTACHMENT (I won't have time to go look up everyone's pics or avatars)

and no more than seven words to:

A lot of us are getting hit with the clue gun and I have no doubt I will be one of them, but I’M STILL GRATEFUL TO HER! Aren’t you?

Please help pass the word to anyone you know who might want to participate, but let’s try to make it a surprise.

Thank you. PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO ANYONE YOU THINK WANTS IN. Not everyone has an e-mail address available to me. If this comes as a blog comment because I didn't know where to e-mail you, please delete it before she sees it!


Sherryl said...

I think Miss Snark would hang, draw and quarter anyone wanting to do something so nice.
But I'm grateful for the Crapometer all the same.