Saturday, 18 February 2012

It's all part of The Process

Sometimes it is difficult for the untrained eye to spot the difference between a working writer and a lazy slacker. I'll admit that there are certain similarities, so I'm all too willing to forgive the error. I have a lot of conversations that go a lot like this:

Her: What are you doing?
Me: Writing.
Her: You're playing Facebook games.
Me: It's all part of The Process.
Her: Are you sure?
Me: I'm sure.

Time passes.

Her: What are you doing now?
Me: Writing.
Her: You're watching Farscape!
Me: If you already knew what I was doing why did you bother to ask?

More time passes.

Me: Before you ask, yes I'm writing.
Her: You're getting drunk.
Me: It's part of The Process.
Her: Are you sure?
Me: It is crazy, how sure I am!

So there it is.

Can you, Dear Reader, spot the differences? No? To be honest ... some days, neither can I. There's definitely something to be said for keeping the conscious mind occupied while letting the 'boys in the basement' (to pilfer a line from Stephen King) do their work. I personally find that some level of distraction and refocusing is absolutely necessary to do creative work. I hear that Neil Gaiman likes to go for long drives. Jennifer Pelland does belly dancing (and she does it quite well.) And it is crazy how many authors like to get blasted out of their minds on the controlled substance of their choice.

But on the other side of the keyboard, there are countless authors who fritter away their days goofing off, waiting for the muse who never comes, and building social empires out of Twitter accounts. Most of these authors don't get enough written. And I, Dear Reader, am very much one of Those Authors. There are many different jobs that a writer needs to get done. Some of them require some goof off time, many others require a whole lot of focus, dedication, and time in chair. For every hour I spend day dreaming about plot, I need to put in 6 more on writing and 20 more into editing.

Creating plot is the fun part for me; it's the bold and exciting part of any project where there are no wrong answers and everything is possible. Then there's the nuts and bolts writing, worrying about word choice, timing, continuity, style, and character. And then comes the dreaded editing. Punctuation, spelling, grammar, typographical errors, and all the other hobgoblins of good writing are the anchor that drags me down.

Which just makes it all the more exciting when I flex my mighty metaphorical thews and stand proud, lifting the anchor above my head and howling the author's fierce victory cry, "The End!" Somewhere between the slacker gazing out the window and the head's down keyboard cowboy, I get my best work done.

None of this is easy on my writing partners, most of whom have much, much better working habits than I do. Through clever planning and unearned audacity, I have multiple deadlines all converging right about ... now. Feverish typing at 3 in the morning has become pretty normal for me, and my collaborators are probably getting equally used to seeing my latest work first thing in the morning. I hope that working with me is rewarding on some level, because it surely frustrates on more than one.

For those of you out there looking forward to the final session of Serendipity Station and Feast of the Minotaur at Intercon L, please say nice things to my co-writers about how patient and considerate they have been. For those of you patiently waiting for my next interactive smart phone app and novel, that is still a way's off... For those patiently waiting for my next blog posting, here it is! How do you like it so far?

It has been said that writers wear many hats, the mind set, skill set, and temperament required for getting a rough draft out of your brain and onto the computer screen is entirely different from the hats you have to wear during later phases of any literary project. Switching gears is very hard for me, and I'm sure it's just as challenging for most other writers. But the rewards are pretty great so I'll keep doing it as long as I can. Because, frankly, I suck even worse at most everything else.

President's Day 1/20/2012
Chelmsford, MA

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