Today is Hump Day. Yes, Hump Day and not on a Wednesday.
In Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein refers to something called The Hump, a psychological obstacle. climbing your way up the hump means that you’re struggling to accomplish something, and when you pass it, it’s all downhill. You’re as good as on Easy Street.
I don’t think I’ve crossed the hump, but definitely a hump. I foresee many humps in the future as I work to make a writing career for myself, times of great challenges and obstacles when the wisest thing to do seems to be to simply give up. That certainly would be the easiest thing, but it’s not the wisest.
I knew I crossed this hump today while working on No Tomorrow. Being a Saturday, my word quota was five thousand words. I had just about a third of that done. I still had a lot to do. I began to mentally brace myself for yet another late night. But in spite of it all, I didn’t feel angry with the work I was doing.
You’ve probably felt this way before: you’re working on a project (it doesn’t have to be writing), and it’s giving you such a hard time that you decide it’s not worth it, so you quite. Maybe this has happened a few times. It has with me.
I’m about as far into No Tomorrow as I was with Undead and Inhuman when I tried writing that earlier in the summer, but there’s a difference between the two. Undead and Inhuman had so many logistical problems underneath it. How do you send thousands of people to the Moon? How do you train an army to fight on the Moon? How do you do this in a believable fashion? These questions were important to the story world, but they were draining my attention from telling the story itself. I stopped being a storyteller and started being a researcher of a hypothetical scenario.
That wasn’t fun at all. Writing should be fun, shouldn’t it?
Damn right it should! Yes, it’s a lot of hard work with many hours dedicated to it, but that’s just the nature of it all. Today, and every day since I started writing No Tomorrow, my only problem has been to get the words out onto the page. Sometimes, I can’t type fast enough. Sometimes, the words are stuck in traffic somewhere between my brain and my fingertips. But in both cases, I wasn’t researching, I was storytelling. It didn’t matter if the story was solid gold or solid crap. I knew I could revise it later. I was having fun, and I wasn’t researching.
Stephen King is a big advocate of the idea that a writer should have fun while doing it. What does he mean by having fun? Well, I don’t think he means that when you sit down every day, the words are just going to come pouring out like someone had pulled back the floodgates. Some days are harder than others, a little or a lottle more sluggish, and there’s really nothing to be done about that any more than people have their good days and bad days in whatever line of work they‘re in.
What struck me about No Tomorrow is that there hasn‘t been a day yet where I feel pissed off at the idea of working on it. Ask yourself that with your own work. Is it pissing you off, or it just occasionally frustrating? If it’s merely frustrating, don’t worry about that. That’s normal. If, on the other hand, it’s pissing you off (and pissing you off on a regular basis), then, friend, you have a bad project on your hands and you need to stop.