Beware the Quiet Writer

I love my family and I’m kind of fond of a couple of my relatives, but even with some of the ones that I do like, there are times when I want nothing more than to give them a verbal bitch-slapping.

Case in point: tonight, my aunt and uncle (who are also my godparents) came over for coffee.  And my godmother – with that wonderfully stereotypical Italian accent that, sadly, is authentic – remarked that I looked tired.  Well, Sherlock, I am tired.  I’ve had a long and frustrating day, and it ain’t over.  I told her that I was working, and she said that I could take at least one day off.

I looked right at her and said, “I.  Work.  Every.  Day.”

I do work every day, and especially now that I’m in drafting mode where even one day off puts me behind schedule.  Even though I intend to self-publish my novel, I do have a timetable that I have to stick to.  If I take a day off, I’m about four pages behind.  Worse than that, by putting my foot on the breaks and letting the momentum cool, those four pages could multiply into eight or twelve pages.  And it’s very hard for me to rebuild that momentum.  Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly sluggish, it could take me half a day before I’m ready to get to even that first word!

I had to leave the room at that point and take just a minute or two to calm down and take some deep breaths before I say something that I’ll really regret.  I knew that the sternness in my voice was a clear enough message.  It’s possible to take vindication a little too far.

I do feel stress and pressure if only for the fact that I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.  I’ve never had a novel published.  Undead and Inhuman could wind up selling only a dozen copies, or it could be my Harry Potter and launch me into stardom.  The most realistic outcome that I can see is that it lands somewhere in the middle of those two extremes and do moderately well.

All I know is that I cannot get paid for the book right now, not until it’s done and available for purchase.  I hate sounding like the money-hungry asshole, but you have to see it from my point of view.  I’m trying to turn writing into something that I can make a living doing, and when that’s the goal, you have to be conscious of the bottom line.

Maybe I ought to translate that.  Most writers will tell you not to think about the money.  They say that it’ll spoil your creative thinking.  I understand that, and agree with it.  You won’t get anything done if you spend all your time thinking about that big, fat royalty check or that interview with Letterman or O’Brien.  You can daydream, sure.  I do that all the time when I’m taking a break after a bout of writing.  The work still has to get done.  So consequently, when I say that I think about my bottom line, what I really mean is that I’m trying to keep my expenses down as low as possible.

But I digress.  Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  I was bitching about my relatives.

I think every writer has some specific goal with each of their projects.  With Undead and Inhuman, I just want to see it done.  As I’ve said, the sales on it might ultimately be anemic.  Even so, just getting it onto the market makes it a success to me.

I want a copy of this book so that I may slam it down onto my kitchen table and say, “I did this!  It didn’t launch me to meteoric fame, but I did something that you can’t do!

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