Little by Little
I’m well into chapter 3 now. The set up is going slowly. I can’t wait for this part to be over. Another three or four chapters and the plot will have taken shape. From there it will be just writing my characters running headlong into peril after peril. That part I’m looking forward to. The setup? Not as much. I’m working hard on the characterizations and descriptions. Which means I’ll likely have to cull a great deal from this in the later edits, but for now I’d rather include the kitchen sink (and its five paragraph description) than wonder what I’m missing later.
In the last week I’ve had no less than three people ask me what I’m doing for a living now. It feels awkward to say “writing” because I’m not exactly making money at it yet. If you count my editing and freelance writing work from the past, I’ve technically made money doing it, however, so it sort of counts, right? And I am writing now with the goal of publication and monies in the future. I’ve no other paid work at the moment. So I nervously answered “writing” to all of them. No one questioned it. Which probably means I should stop questioning it too.
However, my trying to write full time led to a fight with a sibling. She was in town and so I took a day off to see her. She then wanted me to take another day and drive her some places (which would have taken the whole day). I refused. Driving for hours at a time eats a lot of energy. I knew that if I did this, it would mean no writing got done that day. I’ve been working hard to make sure I spend at least a few hours everyday working on the novel. This is my job now. If I’m going to have a draft done by the time classes start, I can’t really put off writing too much. There are already many things scheduled (like PAX 2008 this weekend) that will take away writing days.
I tried to explain this to my sister. I carefully explained that I had to work. She didn’t get it. She figured I could just take whatever time I wanted since I’m unemployed. Eventually I gave up trying to explain how I wasn’t really unemployed, just self-employed (which is how I see it, despite the no incoming money yet thing). It didn’t end so well.
I have a feeling this is only the first in a line of battles to guard my time and have my writing life taken seriously to the people around me. Once I’m published, perhaps, they’ll truly understand. But I’m not sure they can, being non-writers, understand the sheer volume of work that is writing a good novel. It’s hard. It’s really fucking hard. Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. Writing takes a great deal of mental energy and lots of time. I can spend ten hours working on something and end up with only a couple hundred usable words. And unlike most jobs where you have bosses and coworkers and such, if I don’t do the work, it doesn’t get done. No one is going to write my novel for me. The more time I spend not writing, the longer it will be until I can expect any kind of compensation. This is how it works, for me.
Little by little. I have to guard my time. Writing is my job, and as such, I have to make sure I take it seriously. I don’t want to dabble. This isn’t a hobby. I want to write for a living and the only way I know how to do it is to actually write.