My Goals… And Speed.
I feel I should clarify my goals and my writing speed. Dean’s already warned me to keep my mouth shut in public about how much or how fast I write, and while I’ll probably take his advice and be more vague at Cons and such, this is my blog and I’m not a prevaricating kind of girl *grin*.
First, my goals are just that. Mine. They certainly don’t reflect anything but how I want to go about pursuing writing as my career. I’ve never been a “kinda” person. I learned to win at poker by playing 2 cent/4 cent limit online 15-20 hours a day, everyday for weeks while reading every source on poker that I could get my hands on (And I still graduated college, a miracle!). I did this because I liked poker, I was broke, and I hate being crappy at things (and broke). I took that same mentality to my jobs over the years, too, and it got me stressed-out with 70 work weeks. I’m not saying it is always a good mindset, this all or nothing. But it’s mine, and that’s how I am, so I deal with it.
Writing is the same way for me. I spent 20 years writing stories, showing very few to anyone because I was certain they sucked (and they did, they really did) and very very frustrated that I couldn’t improve. I was trapped in the “real writers are re-writers” myth and going nowhere.
Then I basically said “fuck it”, applied to an MFA program, started writing more, realized the MFA program was not at all for me (but I learned some tricks and made a couple friends in one of the workshops at the least, so it wasn’t a total waste). Then I discovered Heinlein’s Rules, had a writer friend point me to Dean Wesley Smith’s website, and suddenly (or so it seemed), I started improving. Because I was writing. I was writing a lot (well, a lot more anyway). New stuff. Not picking over draft after draft, but just taking what I thought worked and trying it again. And again. And again.
Writing all this new stuff has opened methods of practicing things I’d never gotten to really try before. Picking over the same old story again and again didn’t let me try out the techniques I found in the books I love. But writing a new story did. I could take that story and write it with Donald E. Westlake’s surprising way of describing things in mind. Or with Terry Brook’s way of making you love a character and then twisting the knife. Or Elizabeth Moon’s way of making kick-ass seem normal and flawed and still cool. Or Michael Connelly’s way of making each victory both awesome and Pyrrhic. Or George RR Martin’s epic feel. I could go on and on. Writing new stuff lets me practice these things over and over, and if I fail it isn’t a teeth-grinding ordeal anymore because I know that I can just try to fail differently (fail better?) next time instead of knowing I now have to spend the next six months of my life editing and rewriting the failed story.
So, how this relates to speed is two-fold. One, I want to be the best damn writer I’m capable of being at any given point in time. The more practice I get in, the better I’ll get (hopefully). Second, I have a crazy brain full of a million things all the time and writing is the best way I’ve found to let off the pressure. The faster I write, the sooner I’ll finish any one thing and be able to start another, and the more quiet I might gain inside my head. So between the two, and for my goals, I want to get faster and more consistent. For me, because that’s the way I work.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to work up to full eight-hour days writing (which would get me 7,500 to 10,000 words done) because I am also crazy about other things like reading and gaming (rpgs and videogames). But I do hope to be able to consistently write multiple books a year as well as keep a goodly number of shorts circulating. And I want to keep my level of practice up, because every time I open a book it seems I find some new thing or idea or technique I want to try in my own work.
So basically to sum up: I want to get faster with my writing because writing lots is how I practice and I want to practice as much as I can (and hopefully someday sell as much as I can, cause hey, this *is* my career, after all). That’s it, I’m just long-winded at 4am I guess.