Oi. The horror, the horror . . . the horror of word count! Well, it’s not that much of a horror, but sometimes it just drives you crazy enough that you want to go, “Hummmm . . . why am I doing this again? I could be doing something worth while like cooking meth. Or selling myself an S&M club. Or hanging on Facebook making fun of people–oh, wait: I do that now.”
You get the point. Sometimes even the best person who’s doing this work wonders why they bother. ‘Cause lets face it, if you ain’t a writer, you are mystified by this thing called, “Story Tellin’,” and it tends to bend your little mind. (Notice I didn’t say, “Bendy Wendy,” because there’s no timey whimey involved. Straight up cause and effect, ya understand?)
Unless you’re a “name author”, you’re toiling in obscurity. And I do mean that: friends almost never ask me what I’m working on, co-worker give less than a single shit about my stories, and even here at home, the family unit doesn’t ask about about anything beyond, “Are you still writing?”, or “How is your writing?”
To be honest, I get it easy on the family front. A lot of people I know talk about how the Other Halves are in their shit a lot, arguing that they’re wasting their time with something that isn’t bringing in money, that they should be working on something worthwhile. It’s always that little dig at the end that puts the cherry on the top of the You’re Disappointing Sundae, because if you aren’t living up the expectations of others, why then, you must be screwing around.
I got two words for these people, and they aren’t “Happy Birthday.”
Yes, what I do with this writing this involves doing something that isn’t bringing in money on the spot; it takes time that means I’m often away doing something that prevents me from doing something else; and it will involve being alone and misunderstood, because if you have months to spend putting words into a computer, and then fixing those words, and then fixing them some more before you send them off without any expectation of getting paid–then why can’t you do something useful?
Oh, piss on it: Fuck You. Got it? Or as Pete Townsend told Abbie Hoffman at Woodstock, “Fuck off my fucking stage!” Now, I’m not gonna hit anyone in the back of the head with a guitar, but you get the point. You’re in my world now, Susie Sunshine, and tread carefully, because I will throw your ass in a story where your character is emasculated by insanely vicious chihuahuas, and I’ll love every second of the ongoing groin chewing.
Yes, I’m not generating money with my writing. Yes, I might not ever generate any money with my writing, and the time will come when I’ll say, “The hell with it,” and stop. And, yes: this writing thing mean that I won’t have time for whatever stuff you–and you know who you are–think I should be doing.
I’ve been writing through issues that should block me. I’ve had headaches that have been blinding enough to make it impossible to think. I’ve heard bullshit from people that has set my teeth on edge to the point that I think my head is on sideways.
I’m still here; I’m still writing.
No, the payoff isn’t always Sunshine and Unicorns and Lady Fans who want to take us to their boudoirs so they can make us writhe like we’re possessed by demons. Sometimes you make zip. Sometimes you make a little, just enough to keep teasing you back to the computer. If you do make bank on your work, you might clear $50 thousand after your expenses. Might.
Chuck Wendig has laid out the smack for NaNo, not once but twice. He talks about prep; he talks about number; he talks about doing it every damn day, ’cause that’s the only way you’re gonna get better. But he lays out this little gem, and it’s worth repeating in its entity because it is too damn awesome (From 25 Motivational Thoughts for Writers, by Chuck Wendig, from Terrible Minds):
20. How To Image The Haters
If there is one thing we have learned upon this old Internet of ours, it is: haters gonna hate. You will ever have disbelievers among your ranks, those who pop up like scowling gophers, boring holes through your well-being, your hopes, your dreams. It is very important not to prove the haters right. It is very important to know where to place the haters in rank of importance, which is to say, below telemarketers, below any television show on TLC, below crotch fungus and garbage fires and anal cankers. Imagine the haters herded into a pen. Eaten by the tigers of your own awesomeness. Then digested. Shat out. And burned with flamethrowers. The only power you should afford the haters is the power to eat curb.
I’m working on a story that requires a lot of work, a lot of research. Last night I finished a chapter that wasn’t easy to write, because I found it hard to get into writing. I ended the chapter, which involved my character being questioned with a police officer, with one of my characters saying she could stand a little more konro, which is a beef rib soup dish one finds in Makassar.
I screwed up that word “konro” maybe six or seven times, and only today got around to fixing it. This after having looked it up maybe four or five times since Monday. But I finally got it right because–I’m a writer. And I’m writing. This is what I do.
So word to the haters: get off my tits. I am me, you are you, and I’m not asking you to pen a novel. I’m decided to do this insanity on my own, and if, per chance, you find it strange that I’m not down with what you think I should do, tough.
‘Cause if you’re not careful, one of my characters is gonna get dressed in her finest Lolita outfit, dig out those platform goth boots she loves so much, buckle them on, then find you and curb stomp your ass into the nearest hospital.
Only because, you know, I’m totally into non-violence.
But my characters aren’t.