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dangers of being a writer

January 22, 2010

Picture this: a solitary writer, sitting at  a desk day after day, peering at the screen, willing my her fingers to excrete* brilliant words — 

*Don’t judge – you’d use words like that, too, if your-sister-the-registered-nurse had just visited for three days.  And yes, I get the irony of using ‘excrete’ and ‘brilliant’ together.  Some days, I would be be delighted with shite on the page, if it would just come out and prepare to be edited. Wait, I am totally losing my analogy here. 

Moving on… this life – the life of a writer – is fraught with peril.

Three of the biggest risks:

  • self-absorption
  • insufficient income
  • becoming a hermit

That last may be related to the first one, although I’m not certain about the direction of causality.

It can be easy to forget that real life exists, and yet – for me – it is vital to interact with the real world to keep the writing fresh and maintain a healthy perspective.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to leave the house: make appointments, volunteer at the high school, spend time in coffee shops.  Any of these things prompt me to shower and get dressed in something other than pajamas yoga pants.

Other days, I stay home and take planned breaks from writing to see what is happening in the realms of cyberworld: e.g. fifteen minutes writing = five minutes on twitter, an hour of writing = fifteen minutes of blog reading or surfing.  I usually find a balance between craft-related research to make my writing stronger, learning more about the issues of the day to stay current, and creative humour to relax my brain.

Laughter is good medicine – it keeps me from taking myself too seriously, and my writing is better for it.

My internet finds from this week won’t improve my – or your – income, but they might help mitigate the other risks of writing.

Jay Lake wrote a piece on the nature of becoming a writer, relating it to science-fiction/fantasy, but I believe it applies to other genres as well.  Check out [process] The larval stages of the common American speculative fiction writer.  (via John Scalzi at Whatever)

Vanity presses (self-publishing) have their fans and their detractors.  There are authors, agents, and editors who detest them.  Yet, they persist.  And with the changing landscape of e-readers (especially at the recent CES fair), self-publishing may yet have its heyday.

We can only hope it doesn’t look like this:

(Click the image to go to Doug’s site.)

Finally, as I was writing this post, I paused to see what was happening on twitter.  Good thing, too: I arrived just in time to see this little gem go by, created by Lupe Fernandez, of Pen and Ink, a writing blog hosted by four SCBWI members. (Hat tip, Greg Pincus.)

       

 

Because everyone needs a break sometimes.  And on that note, back to work.

    

listening to: Movits, Fel Del Av Gården (Catherine has been introducing us to Swedish music)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Catherine permalink
    January 24, 2010 11:56 pm

    This is my FAVOURITE post so far. I have not written fiction, but I have written a PhD thesis, and I think there are parallels (more than scientists might like to admit.)
    This reminded me of a “short film” my grad-school-buddy Neil made while he was writing his thesis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p46hwrR7KbE

  2. Jet permalink*
    January 25, 2010 11:14 am

    Oh my Lord, that is so funny. “Well, it’s always nice to see you, especially when your antlers are looking so pretty.”

    Parallels, indeed. I think I’ll go close my curtains now.

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