I read a great post by Laura Anne Gilman last week on what it takes to actually make a living as a writer, and dealing with the burn out that invariably comes with it. It’s quite simple, really. To make a living writing, a writer must write. Writing two to three books per year means dedicating the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair all day, every day.
That got me thinking (I know, dangerous!). I don’t get to spend all day, every day writing. Not yet. Someday I hope to. I don’t have a problem with that aspect. I already spend nine hours a day in front of a computer doing work I don’t actually enjoy. Then I come home and try to put in another couple doing something I do enjoy. Piece of cake. I’ve got the BICHOK syndrome for sure. (Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard)
But that’s only the first part of the puzzle. May I repeat: Writing two to three books per year. And I’d forgotten, until just recently, how hard writing a book is. Yes, I’ve been working on at least two over the past *cough* couple years. I haven’t started a new one until now.
I liken it to the people who have a dog for fourteen years and finally have to say their goodbyes. Then they go out and get a puppy. They have to go through housebreaking again, and teaching basic manners. Puppy teeth marks appear in everything, and several new pairs of shoes later they’re crying that their previous dog was never this bad. In truth, their previous dog was probably just like that. But they’ve forgotten what it’s like to have an infant canine ruling your household.
Starting a new book, even though it’s the second in a series, is a lot like that. I’d forgotten how hard it is getting through a first draft. I had been immersed in the polishing and fine tuning of my novel – my dog was trained and reliable and, yes, maybe needed a little reminder every now and again, but could pretty much be trusted on her own.
Enter the puppy. Characters I thought I knew inside and out are reacting to situations in ways I didn’t expect. The plot has taken a turn I never thought of. And just getting the words out, making it through that puppy’s first year, is about going to kill me.
Well, not really. But it is tough. I want to go back and analyze every facet, every word, re-write before I’ve finished writing in the first place. I need to settle back into the rhythm of simply putting the words down on the paper and not looking at them until I hit The End.
And I’m doing the arithmetic, which I never did with the first book I finished, because that one was just to prove I could actually do it. Now I know I can do it. I want to do it again. And again. So I need to know how many words I have to write a day to reach my goal. What is my goal? Do I even have a goal? And I’m starting to panic. Just a little. Because my goal is to NOT take two years to finish this book, but I’ve got that pesky day job and real life to contend with and . . .
. . . just like training that puppy, it’s going to take patience.