Week 5 as a full-time writer?

I think it must be about week 5, but I’m too lazy to check the calendar. I type this in between preparing dinner for the Significant Other (he will be home soon) and trying to squeeze out a few more words on “The Badger Bride” before the sun goes down.

The last few weeks have been busy and very productive: I taught an online course for Queensland Writers Centre, which was great fun; I’ve edited and critted a metric buttload of stories; I attended a workshop run by the awesome Kelly Link; I’ve finally handed in the bound version of the interminable PhDoom; I’ve written a couple of articles; and I’ve written a LOT of words, some with Lisa Hannett on Midnight and Moonshine (we’re over 50k), and some on my other collection, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (of which today’s story forms part).

Up until today, the words have been most accommodating, flowing freely, generally in the right order. It’s been lovely.

Today was just one of those days. The kind of day when every word comes out coated in blood. When your inner editor will not be shut up with chocolate and coffee, nor distracted by shiny objects or promises of shoes. When your frustration is so intense that you could scream because you KNOW this story – you have plotted it out, you have it planned from head to tail, you love it – but it does not love you.

Today was the writer’s equivalent of a bout of terrible, terrible constipation.

Today was one of those days when I wandered around the house, talking to myself (best not witnessed by anyone else, especially not the man who loves me), and finally gave up and watched cartoons for a while.

And with the cartoons came a memory, one of those deep-seated things that runs in the background but which I still forget from time to time: some days you just have to push out the workman-like words. Not every day will see diamonds and roses and pearls fall from your lips. Some days, you just need to produce the brown stuff before you can start polishing it up.

Today was a reminder that writing is rewriting, no matter how good you are, no matter how many years you write.

So, today was bricks and mortar; today was building a strong foundation, which is in no way sexy, but is reliable. Tomorrow (or the next day) is for adding the shiny bits, the sequins, the ribbons and bows.

Writing is hard work, as the lovely Charles Tan observed.

But some days – like today – I get reminded of that and I am eternally surprised.

Then again, sometimes an awesome thing happens too – like Alan Baxter naming a video game character after me (with a double-handed broad sword no less). That’s cool.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, those potatoes aren’t going to mash themselves. And at least, unlike the words, they won’t fight back.




This entry was posted in fairy tales, News, On Writing: General, On Writing: Short Stories and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Week 5 as a full-time writer?

  1. Jeff P. says:

    Great post. Funny how, happy or sad, crappy or good, we need to crank out the work. What I’ve found many times (but not always, sadly) is when I come back to what I thought was shitty stuff, it’s not nearly as bad as I’d thought. Sometimes it’s just one sentence, or a glimpse of character, but there’s usually something I can use.

    Another thing I do when I’m in a spot like this is call a creative friend and commiserate a little. I have to be careful to not let it stray me from my writing, but sometimes even a 5 minute chat can make all the difference. Case in point, for a couple of months now I’ve been blocked with this TV show I’m supposed to be developing (a cartoon, coincidentally enough). Monday night I called a TV writer friend, whining, and by the time we got off the phone the blockage had broke wide open. Thanks, Gina!

    What cartoons did you watch? Good stuff, I hope?

  2. Ah, yes. Even with years of experience, we can still get caught up in the myth that writing is all about inspiration and furious delight with the muse riding you when most of the time, it’s work.

    Glad to hear that you’re being so productive and you’ve not got caught up in a lack of application with all the freedom 🙂