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popmuze
11-10-2006, 09:04 PM
Ever since the day I started getting paid for my writing (most of you on this board weren't born yet...most of the world wasn't born yet) I have found it very difficult to write in the absense of a contract.

Back in the olde amateur days, I was a typing machine, finishing one draft of a novel in the morning and starting the next draft that afternoon. My notebook was always filled with ideas.

Now, I've stopped writing non-fiction books because my previous sales weren't big enough. I figured, if I'm not going to get paid, I may as well write fiction.

But with a novel circulating to agents (who may or may not investigate my track record), I can't summon up the emotional capital to invest in another spec project.

Sometimes I long for those amateur days when it was only about the writing. But then I write a few pages and say, "I don't have time for unpaid work."

Then I'll waste an hour playing Scrabble on the Internet when I certainly could have started a blog in that time.

Truth is, I was looking forward to spending my reclining (declining) years the way I spent my teens and twenties, typing eight hours a day.

Now I think TV and Solitaire might be more appealing.

CaroGirl
11-10-2006, 09:11 PM
You must do what most interests you at any given life stage, I think. For me, creative writing remains a hobby. I have the ubiquitous Day Job, at which I write, but which is also maddeningly soul destroying because I don't feel like I'm writing anything useful. I haven't sold any fiction writing to date. But when (if) I do, I might feel differently.

At your stage, write when inspiration strikes. Otherwise, go for a nice walk.

Shadow_Ferret
11-10-2006, 09:22 PM
At your stage, write when inspiration strikes. Otherwise, go for a nice walk.

He's old, remember. A nap would be more appropriate. :)

Anyway, I don't have any advice, I find as I'm getting older my output is actually increasing. Doesn't mean I'm selling more, I'm just writing more. But that could be an illusion of having changed from lousy short stories to lousy novels, so before where I might average several 2000 word stories, now I average a 70000 word novel.

CaroGirl
11-10-2006, 09:41 PM
He's old, remember. A nap would be more appropriate. :)

A nap's good too. You feeling a little sleepy, SF?

Shadow_Ferret
11-10-2006, 10:00 PM
A nap's good too. You feeling a little sleepy, SF?

Yes. Yes I am. Unfortunately I have another 4 hours of work.

:tongue

PeeDee
11-10-2006, 10:10 PM
The older I get, the more I find both my writing volume and my sales increasing.

I see what you mean, though, because I have things (like my comic book scripts for example) that I would never have bothered to have written/started writing if someone hadn't said "Okay, we'd like to have those."

Most of the fiction still comes out for fun, though. I think that's important.

popmuze
11-11-2006, 01:17 AM
The older I get, the more I find both my writing volume and my sales increasing.

I see what you mean, though, because I have things (like my comic book scripts for example) that I would never have bothered to have written/started writing if someone hadn't said "Okay, we'd like to have those."

Most of the fiction still comes out for fun, though. I think that's important.


Advice coming from House, I'll have to accept. But I should add, I've been an accomplished napper for many years already. I can fall asleep and miss my stop in an elevator.
Maybe once I'm retired (I've still got a ways to go, assuming I survive the latest wave of layoffs) I won't be so controlled by money (Scrabble on the Internet is getting too easy anyway).
I guess I should start a blog (maybe I'll collect all my old posts here), but what if nobody came?

Julie Worth
11-11-2006, 01:42 AM
... but what if nobody came?

Googlebot will come.

popmuze
11-11-2006, 02:05 AM
Googlebot will come.


That's what I'm afraid of.

SeanDSchaffer
11-11-2006, 06:31 AM
Popmuze, I wish I could say anything at all that would be helpful to you at this point. But alas, I have never been paid for my writing by a legitimate house, so I do not know what it feels like to be a professional writer.

What I can say is I feel for you. I suffer from depression all the time, and sometimes I feel like I should quit writing altogether (after all, I've been writing for 24 years, and I'm still unpublished).

But I find that in the midst of my depression, I have to verbally remind myself that things will not always be the way they are now. Like the old saying goes, "It's always darkest before the dawn". It could be that you're going through a dark portion of your writing life where all the world around you seems dead and the darkness feels like it will never end. But you have to remind yourself, that things do get better. Have faith in your abilities; you're a professional, and you've been getting paid for your writing for years. You can make this work. Don't give up.

Rolling Thunder
11-11-2006, 06:34 AM
Then I'll waste an hour playing Scrabble on the Internet when I certainly could have started a blog in that time.



Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

popmuze
11-11-2006, 06:57 AM
It could be that you're going through a dark portion of your writing life where all the world around you seems dead and the darkness feels like it will never end. But you have to remind yourself, that things do get better. Have faith in your abilities; you're a professional, and you've been getting paid for your writing for years. You can make this work. Don't give up.

Sean, I am taking this to heart. I believe there are angels lurking here, just as there are in the so-called real world. They come along to lift your spirits, in one way or another, when you need them. I'm not sure what I had in mind when I posted this, but I appreciate your sentiments.

victoriastrauss
11-11-2006, 07:58 AM
Sometimes I long for those amateur days when it was only about the writing.I know exactly what you mean.

- Victoria

PeeDee
11-11-2006, 09:02 AM
I know exactly what you mean.

- Victoria

But...but....I bet your covers weren't nearly so pretty in your amateur days. :)

Doug Johnson
11-11-2006, 05:41 PM
Writing is like sex; it's a lot less fun when you do it for money.

popmuze
11-11-2006, 09:58 PM
I am reminded of Willie Mays, at the height of his fame gleefully playing stickball on the streets of the Bronx.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to spend three years writing something at less than 10 cents a word.

The truth is, the going rate for writers is pretty much the same as when I started out. That's because so many writers would gladly work for free.

Doug Johnson
11-11-2006, 10:04 PM
Yep. Professional writers are like prostitutes; they're trying to get paid for what everyone else is willing to give away for free.

triceretops
11-11-2006, 10:36 PM
I long for the old days too. It seemed everybody wanted my work, and there was no end to the white hot inspiration. My hiatus was too long, and I feel I'm not that known quantity any more. I'm starting over in the cyber age and I'm still not used to this...abuse. I can only forge on and out-last those who say that it's time to give up. I feel like a Sears Diehard battery. Only they're so out of vogue now.

Tri

janetbellinger
11-11-2006, 11:08 PM
I figure as long as I'm still learning, I won't give up. For me, that is the improtant thing. Once I learn everything there is to learn I lose interest. Looking at it from that angle, it's good I'm still learning about writing. I'm sure there will always be something new to learn.

popmuze
11-12-2006, 03:03 AM
Yep. Professional writers are like prostitutes; they're trying to get paid for what everyone else is willing to give away for free.


To make that analogy really work, you'd have to assume that prostitutes would provide the best sex ever.
But then I watch something on HBO like Atlantic City and they're more like dime a dozen hacks.

popmuze
11-12-2006, 03:11 AM
I long for the old days too. It seemed everybody wanted my work, and there was no end to the white hot inspiration. My hiatus was too long, and I feel I'm not that known quantity any more. I'm starting over in the cyber age and I'm still not used to this...abuse. I can only forge on and out-last those who say that it's time to give up. I feel like a Sears Diehard battery. Only they're so out of vogue now.

Tri


Boy do I identify with that whole statement. Even though my hiatus consists of a very high profile job, I haven't produced a lot of published writing in a decade. But up to this year, I never even had to query an agent. Friends would recommend me to their agents or editors. Once I had to cold call an agent who used to be an editor. I identified myself and he said, "Yes, I'm familiar with your work." Two months later I had another book deal.
Now, it's like this all happened before a generation of agents and editors were even born.
So, like you, I'm driven by what drove me in the beginning: the determination to prove them all wrong all over again.

Shweta
11-13-2006, 10:20 AM
Writing for free isn't all that much fun, either, especially when it means racking up the rejection letters...

(I just got another one, and really, part of me is going "Why bother? You're not selling a d*mn thing")

PeeDee
11-13-2006, 10:40 AM
Writing for free isn't all that much fun, either, especially when it means racking up the rejection letters...

(I just got another one, and really, part of me is going "Why bother? You're not selling a d*mn thing")

Instead of thinking that, think "Cool, someone's read something I wrote! And he didn't like it, huh? Wait till they read this!" and then go write something gleefully.

The gradual shift of writing from "I wanna" to "I hafta" (you know, from freely to deadlines) does make writing a little more tricky, because even if the deadline's far off, it's a pressure. It's someone waiting for it.

For me, that mostly makes me happy. Someone wants something I'm writing. On the long dark tea-time of the soul days, I can say "Hey, someone's at least going to read this, even if it's crap," and that keeps me writing. Some days, when you're writing for free and no one knows you exist, it can feel like you're just quacking into the void.

Besides, even when I have several deadlined "I hafta" projects running, I usually have a few "I wanna when I have time" projects that I scribble on in the moments between tasks. Those help.

JennaGlatzer
11-13-2006, 02:22 PM
My hiatus was too long, and I feel I'm not that known quantity any more.

See? This is why I'm afraid to take a "maternity leave." I was *just* discussing this with a writing friend and saying I was afraid to lose contact with the publishing world for more than about 6 months, because it seems everything changes about that quickly. Editors and agents move all over the place, and move to new careers, and retire, and you lose track of them and they lose track of you, and... well, I've worked hard to get to where I am and I do worry that I'll be forgotten if I stop taking on assignments.

Pop, I completely get your initial post. There's very little I'll write without knowing (or at least being reasonably assured) it's going to pay off. I do have personal "pet projects" that I work on, though-- a book of poetry for my husband. A journal for our little fetus. :D You got anyone you could write for, where it would feel like there's a different sort of "payment" instead of money?

popmuze
11-13-2006, 06:36 PM
I do often feel, when I go through periods where I'm not writing much, like a great musician, John Coltrane, say, whose horn is at the pawn shop.

But, basically, as I survey the terrain, the few areas where I could probably pick up work easily, seem demeaning for someone of my former caliber.

An idea did strike me for what I feel would be an extremely relevant personal essay, something perfect for the NY Times, whose publication would then lead to agents calling to ask me to turn it into a book....

But luckily a football game on TV intervened and the feeling passed.

Not to be too gloomy about this, though, I know if an agent called tomorrow, I'd have a million new ideas by Wednesday.

aruna
11-14-2006, 09:57 AM
I've written four novels on spec, two to contract. I loved wrting the on spec ones, and hated writing the contracted ones. The thing with those two contracted ones: I loved the story ideas, and knew they worked.

But I knew there were "people" waiting for them, judging them, wondering if I could "live up to" my first book. I had an editor looking over my shoulder, offering suggestions every stage of the way, interfering with my own creative thrust. There was the deadline hovering over me. There was the last minute rush to get it finished. so that I nevef had the time to let it sit for a few months to let the story settle and see what needs correcting.

I hated the process so much that I never read those two books again once they appeared in print. I was so certain I'd hate them, too ashamed of them not being up to my own standard.

There I've said i. This is actually one of my best kept secrets.

Kate Thornton
11-14-2006, 07:44 PM
Lol! Sometimes you have to kickstart your muse. Mine naps unless I take an idea-stick to her/him/it.

But sometimes you have to listen to your body and take a break from the stress of creative writing or the stress of writing to deadline or contract. It will come back when you're ready - it always does.