The blinding moment of clarity I had this week came as a result of some VanderMeerish sagacity.
You see, post-Clarion I’ve been trying to become one of those writers who write something every day. Every damned day. That’s in addition to doing the things that are attached to the business of being writerly: checking submissions, accepting rejections, dancing in an undignified fashion when one makes a sale, sending rejected stories back out into the world with chin set in pugnacious manner, writing blogs like this, talking to other writers in a group therapy kind of fashion – y’know, writerly stuff.
So I tried getting up early, sitting at the laptop, pecking out a few words, trying to get them in the correct order for a sentence … trying to make ’em fit into a story or the novel. And you know what? I really, really suck at that. Really. I hate early mornings. My brain does not even deign to speak to the rest of me until it’s had two cups of coffee, and even then it says things like “Why the HELL are we walking around?” Yes, I have been a writer at war with myself. And as this change of process has not been taking I’ve felt like a failure. Not just as an old dog who’s failing to learn new tricks, but failing as a writer. I don’t like failing.
And this is where the VanderMeerish wisdom comes in: The Man Himself asked how it was all going. So I actually had to think about why I was Grumpy in Writersville, and that made me realise I was grumpy coz of the above ‘failures’. Then he said two very important things: (a) you don’t have to change your process – the old one’s been working fine, and (b) don’t feel guilty when you don’t write.
Wise man. I am not an every day kind of writer. I am a blurter. I spend a lot of time not writing per se, but I am percolating: ideas are bubbling away in the mess that is my brain, I am scribbling notes, I’m thinking. When the time is right, then I sit down and blurt out six or seven thousand words in a day. And because they’ve had time to cook, those words are often quite good.
So, no messing with the process. No new tricks. Don’t change horses mid-stream. And don’t mix your metaphors. Onward and upward.
Percolating in progress.