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Tell me a story

I finished revisions on the newest short story this weekend, and the first crits I’ve seen were very favorable. Yay! I pushed myself pretty hard with this one, and couldn’t tell whether the things I struggled to include were too much. Theme, dialog, unreliable narrator. Very exciting! It will be going out into the world shortly, there to be joined by its previously-rejected companions.

I tried a new approach to revisions. Rather than rereading and poking at it, retyped the whole thing, keeping theme and voice in mind the whole thing. I think it worked, by which I mean that it smoothed the whole thing out both stylistically and thematically. It took forever, though: I spent most of the day Saturday revising this 4000-word story. I’m thinking about subjecting the other stories waiting to be resubmitted to the same treatment before I send them back out.

I’m also starting to get itchy to work on long-form fiction. I have novel revisions to do, and I do really want to get Paper Magic finished (complete first draft, started revisions), followed by After the Dawn (about 80k words, perhaps half of which are salvageable, but I have a complete outline/synopsis). Both are YA fantasy, though unrelated.

Next in the queue after that are two adult fantasy novels: Underground (working title only), an urban fantasy/cozy that amuses me to no end (tropes! I can mess with them!), and a science fantasy novel that’s starting to gel. I figured out the major planning thingie that’s been bothering me last night, which makes me interested in it despite its lowly place in the queue. It has a working title, but I can’t tell you what it is.

Once I finish the next phase of the cursed work project I’ll have more brainspace for fiction, at least until the next thing comes along. My current difficulty isn’t juggling time so much as concentration: if I’ve spent 10-12 hours thinking hard about work, there’s time left but not brain.

I’m never going to be able to write every day, unless I do it just to create a habit while knowing that I’ll just be throwing those words away again. Which doesn’t seem all that helpful, really. I’m past the stage of writing for word’s sake; words now take thought and attention. That works fine for short fiction, but putting down a novel while my brain is employed elsewhere makes for a slow reentry period when I get to pick it back up again. I’m a master of leaving myself notes (novels aren’t the only large projects I have to do this to), but it’s still not ideal.

I’ve talked here before about writing every day, or not, and I’m sure I will again. It’s such a pervasive dictum in the writing community, one of the strongest “Thou musts.” Like any other always-true rule, it isn’t, but it still has the power to make me feel guilty when I run across it.

I completely agree that to be a writer you have to write, and to be a professional you have to submit, but there is not and never will be One True Way. If you want to write, figure out how that fits into your life. If it’s every day, that’s great, and you’ll be more productive. But if it’s only on weekends, that’s fine too, or if what you can manage given your time and brain allocation is binge writing between other projects, that’s fine too.

The only thing that’s bad is if you quit writing because you can’t do it the way Famous Writer X says you must.


  1. Vince says:

    I think you need to have a tougher writing schedule if what you hope to do is write for a living. But I agree – it’s smartest to figure out how writing fits into your life.

  2. Sarah says:

    Sure. If I wanted to make a living at it, I’d be intending two novels and a dozen short stories per year at a minimum.

    But I’m already making a living, and don’t see that changing in the immediate future. I can be a professional writer without being a full-time writer.

  3. Vince says:

    The “you” in my comment was a generic “you” as opposed to you, specifically. But then I should have been more specific. 🙂

  4. Sarah says:

    Silly pronouns.

    I didn’t think you were telling me what to do. Much. (Heh.)

    But you’re right: if I were trying to make a living I’d need to be doing something different. Like buying more lottery tix maybe.