It’s the obvious question, ‘where the hell have you been?’ I’ve been working like a little maniac that’s where! Yesterday I uploaded my deposit, as it’s called, to the copyright.gov website so my novella, Reckless Abandon, is officially on its way to completion. And I’m thoroughly exhausted mentally and physically after getting this thing ready for release.
Driving back from a hike with a friend yesterday I told her that I’d been working on this since August 1, that it’s been slow and steady, and she said no way, rather that I pulled it together really fast. I started wondering – was it fast? Sure didn’t seem like it on this side of the fence.
Admittedly there were days tucked in there when I felt like a slacker who did a whole bunch of nothing but sit on my lazy ass and watch cheezy cable television. But for the most part I’ve been putting in ten hour days, on average six days a week, for the past twelve weeks to get this thing hammered out.
That’s a sixty hour work week for three months straight. 720 hours of needing to become multiple other personalities as I tell their story. A distinct lack of anything on my calendar other than ‘write & edit MS’. With the obvious exception of promoting my Blog Tour for Ripple the Twine back in August, a couple critique meetings editing 10 pages for 3 people, a few Writer’s meetings, my ten year anniversary, some happy hours with friends, trips (though not many) to Tucson to visit family, and starting up a workout program again. I’d say on average I write about 25-30,000 words a week between all of the above plus blogs & emails, etc. Um, uh-huh.
I’m fucking exhausted!
Can you blame me?
But two people have now told me how fast I pulled this novella together and it got me thinking. If I need 720 hours to complete a 30,000 word novella and worked like a normal person of 45 hours, 5 days a week, it would have taken me a full month more to complete the manuscript. And if I had an Agent/Publisher that’s about right for getting the book pulled together enough to send out (and have it ripped to shreds by their editor then sent back to be re-worked for production within the following two months).
The thing is, this is my job. I write full time. I don’t go leave my house to do other things during the day and I generally don’t fuck around. There’s a laptop or keyboard attached to my person all 720 of those hours. I have a career and this is it. So I dedicate myself to it all the way.
To do this job full time without making more than $4 a month in royalties is a mental siege, believe me. I struggle every day with wondering if I’m doing the right thing. If I should be out there in the trenches. Workin’ for the weekend. Workin’ for the piece of paper everyone else gets on a Friday afternoon that says here’s what you’re worth for the hours you put in. The validation that what you’re doing is worth something through financial gain. I admit, there are times I miss that.
But does it make me more valid to have a job that has a guaranteed number of hours with a guaranteed commute and a guaranteed paycheck? Does it matter that people don’t understand that I do work? That I work hard. Every day. Because see the real trick is dedicating myself to doing it. That’s where the real work comes in.
Most people would have trouble working the way I do - from home with no boss, no schedule, no set plan of what they’re supposed to do every day. Most people need the routine. And don’t get me wrong, “some money would be nice” but above and beyond that, this job feeds my soul. And not too many people can say that. I hate even admitting it out loud but I know for a fact my husband can’t say it about what he does for a living. But he has graciously given me the flexibility to do this job full time by going to a job he’s flipping amazing at but has no personal connection to doing other than the number of years he’s been doing it. And he does it partly to allow me to work my career with no promise, no guarantee that it will ever produce financial gain. And I couldn’t begin to thank him enough for that gift.
But of course we’re both secretly (okay, not so secretly) hoping that I will become the bread and butter maker in this household. I’d love to make more money than he does. He’d also love me to make more money than he does. And it isn’t exactly like we’re rolling in the dough over here. Quite to the contrary there are more times than not when our budget doesn’t allow for us to do the things we want to do.
Knowing that if I was making a paycheck we’d be able to do them, but that if I was making a paycheck I wouldn’t be writing books, is a constant battle I have to rise above in my mind. Because if I let that spin I’d go insane. Not to say it hasn’t happened. At least twice a year I have a nervous breakdown over what I’m doing. That conversation tends to go like this:
“At least when I was running Chucka Stone I was making some semi steady income.”
“Yeah and your writing took a back seat.”
“I know but…”
“But nothing. Shut your pie hole and keep writing damn it.”
And that’s not the conversation I have with Matt (though those usually end in a similar fashion) this is the one I have with myself. Yeah writers do tend to not only talk to but answer themselves. We have too many characters floating around in that brain of ours not to.
One of my very favorite Authors, Jen Lancaster, came to read in Phoenix recently and announced that she’s on a two book per year schedule. It isn’t unheard of in the industry these days. In fact I imagine the ability and dedication to pumping out two books a year keeps you pretty active on the internet. And we all know the internet is the way to market these days right? Wait, it is, isn’t it? Because I keep hearing these rumors…
I’m doing NaNo in November so this week I’m using to my advantage in catching up with some people, blogs, guest posts and completing the formatting of Reckless Abandon for Amazon. It probably sounds like a lot but to me, well let’s just say I’m looking forward to what will surely be a slow week in comparison to the usual.