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bear by san

March 2017

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bear by san

nineweaving asks, what's hard?

Well, everything.

Right now, the problem I'm having is that it's hard finding the passion; I'm having a hell of a time falling in love with a story. I'm falling in love with them after I'm done writing them, about the time the galleys go back. Which is hard--it's the professional equivalent of only appreciating the love affair after its over. It makes the writing an act of endurance, a performance of true grit rather than a celebration.

I can do that, and do it pretty well. All those years swinging a shovel teach you to swing a shovel well even when it's not really the way you want to be spending your afternoon. And the stories in my head are all stories I want to tell, and I'll never do it with anything other than my best ability. I don't really have it in my makeup to do things by half measures; it's either reading in the deck chair or I'm in with both feet. (This is a bug as well as a feature, as people who know me in real life will attest.)

Anyway, often times the stories that are the hardest shoveling come out well enough--"Follow Me Light," which has been reprinted in two best-of anthologies, was hard, hard work indeed. Which is how I know being passionately involved, inspired, afire, living in the story when I write it is not necessary component of doing good work. Carnival and Whiskey & Water were rough shoveling, but I think they're two of my best. (And I'm totally in love with both of them now, though when I was writing them I was begging to die.)

And I'm so bloody tired of Blood & Iron after six years of work on the damned thing that I am actually kind of boggled that the people who love it love it as passionately as they do. (cpolk says, "I told you so!")

It's really heady, by the way, having written a book that some people love. It makes me feel useful in the world, which is maybe the best feeling there is. So thank you all for that, everybody who has found a way to tell me that the book meant something to them.

It's making me love my book again, when the bloom was off the rose a bit, and I'm really grateful for that.

Anyway, mizkit and autopope (I mistyped that as "autopoe," which I sort of love.) have been talking a bit lately here and there and in comments about the hazards of overwork, and for me it seems to be that, after a good long hard five-year run, I've hit the end of the stories that I had daydreamed about enough to really want to tell. (I'm still in love with Patience & Fortitude, but those are old friends, and I don't need that book for four or five years, so it's gonna sit for a bit, thank you.)

So this is why I'm doing a couple of things. I'm going back to rework older material--because I love the tremendous brave bittersweet tragedy of the Edda of Burdens, in all its misguided glory, even if I wasn't writer enough to pull it off when I tried it the first time and I have a passion for the world and the characters, and I need that right now, that drug, that love, characters I adore and pity and pull for--and I'm trying to take a break from the mode of compulsive production I've been in.

Which is hard, because like any addict, I get fidgety and unpleasant to be around if I don't get my fix.

But this is what I've done since October of 2001, when I started writing again after a hiatus of, God help me, almost four years.

This is only counting first drafts, and there is probably a good 200,000 words of short fiction in addition to this. Where books spanned more than one year, I picked the year where the bulk of the work got done.

2001: All the Windwracked Stars
2002: The Sea thy Mistress, By the Mountain Bound, Hammered, Blood & Iron
2003: Scardown, The Stratford Man, The Cobbler's Boy (with truepenny), The Journeyman Devil
2004: One-Eyed Jack, Worldwired, A Companion to Wolves (with truepenny),
2005: Whiskey & Water, Carnival
2006: Undertow, New Amsterdam (I'm counting it as a novel, even if it really is a picaresque, because for purposes of this narrative it counts as a book.)

2007's plan is Dust, and a lot of revisions (The three Edda of Burdens books, and hopefully TSM and TJD), and whatever else takes my fancy. Current contenders being Patience & Fortitude, because it keeps bugging me, and a bunch of research for other Promethean Age novels.

Yanno, it seems like a lot, but I was unemployed for large chunks of 2002 and 2003. Which, yanno, makes the whole writing thing a lot easier.

(which is why I'm hoping to go part-time at my day job before the end of the year, as well; because working twelve-hour-days is hard, and it's really, really challenging to go home and write well at seven at night when you've already been working since eight in the morning and your brain is dumb.) (Yes, there are people who do it regularly. I have utmost respect for them. I'm not that tough.)

So yeah. I'm going to try to back off, relax a little, revise, and use the breathing time I've bought myself by working like a bloody lunatic since 2001 to fall in love with some of my new stuff before I have to write it.

We'll go on a lot of long walks and silly dates. It'll be fun.

Comments

I don't know if you read it, but triciasullivan blogs on this very point a couple of hours ago (and I comiserate). The point being, I suppose, everyone feels like this. Like any marriage, the passion can't last. That's when it turns into enduring love.
Huh. Her post doesn't seem (to me) to have very much in common with mine.

But it's a good post.

And no, I don't agree. I think the passion is the point, and if I start to lose it, I had better find a way to get it back. No fire in the belly, no point in subjecting one's self to the publishing industry.

The good news is, so far I've managed that, though it's been different kinds of passion.
*hug*

That's all. Just *hug*
*hug right back*

hey, check me out, I'm Ming the Merciless!
it's really, really challenging to go home and write well at seven at night when you've already been working since eight in the morning

Thanks for saying that aloud.

That's what's facing me, and it's really nice to know that I'm not the only one out there who thinks this is really hard, even though other people do it, and shouldn't we all be doing it if that's what we want, etc., etc...?

Yay for new love affairs!
Seconded. I leave the house at 7:45am and get home at 7:30pm. Granted two hours+ of that are on the bus, and everyone says "so write on the bus!" like I can just whip out my laptop/notepad/etc. in a small tin can of 50 smushed, standing-room-only strangers and concentrate. And I'm sure there are people who do, but I've tried, and I'm not one of them. (I do sometimes try to brainstorm or use it as reading time, though. I also noticed that most of the people who suggested and pushed that idea that are not writers.)

Regardless, when I get home, I still have to make dinner, do chores, write... and maybe do something that really is just for fun if I'm lucky. (Because as much as I love writing, sometimes it's nice to do something like video games with no greater ambition.)

Ugh. This turned into a rant.

But anyway, yes, thank you for this, eBear. You know, I've written 10 novels in the last four years. And you've talked about overproducing over and over again, and at first I thought maybe I was immune, but these days, I start to wonder...

Second the motion....

You've more than earned the breathing time; take deep breaths.

Re: Second the motion....

Thank you.

Doing my best. *g*

meow meow

When you are used to running sometimes it is hard to walk. It just feels wrong, but the muscles ache, the bones grate and you need to slow down. This is a natural response. My advisor went on a clock-making spree last year and one of my favorites has no numbers, just sections which say things like 'create,' 'rest,' 'repair,'etc. It was a relief to see that from him because I often forget that rest is important and fuels creativity. But rest doesn't need to be quiescent, it can be active, but different from the daily haul.

Re: meow meow

Yeah, exactly.

I'm going to enjoy this temporary dearth of deadlines for all its worth.
Personally, I'd love to see more short works from you.
More than the forty or so pieces I've had published or are forthcoming?

What's hard?

From a reader's point of view... keeping up with you!!!
Until I joined LJ less than a year ago I don't think I had read anything you had written. (Not your fault, I dropped out of the loop for a while.) Reading this made me curious, as did meeting you in Glasgow.

BUT I was intimidated too. Where to begin? It seemed as though you had so many books And stories out there somewhere, if I could find them, but which were for me?

It was only one of your recent posts that made me realise that most of what you have been talking about is forthcoming and so I have time to catch up. Phew! (1)

The point is, don't worry, there is always a different perspective to act as a safety valve. Keep doing what works for you. And remember that what works on Tuesday may be totally wrong on Wednesday. That's OK.

(1) Though once I have caught up I may well join the hordes of rabid bearphiles demanding new books immdeiately (or sooner) *g*

Re: What's hard?

Hee. The vagaries of publishing are such that whatever I am most involved with now will exist, oh, in about two to five years, as far as everybody else is concerned. *g*
I don't think I've *ever* had that banging-like-bunnies new-relationship passion with any of my written works. I start to fall out of love with a story as soon as the first paragraph (which sucks, of course) is on the page. The shitty first draft kills the wonderful idea, and the best I can do from that point is to try to bring it from shitty to publishable -- nothing I've actually committed to paper lives up to the marvelous diamond of perfection that was the original concept.

But the next project... ah, the *next* project, that's the one I'm in love with. It's only because I hate to waste the effort that's gone into the current project so far that I have anything completed at all.
doh! Man, that's gotta hurt.
Disclaimer: You are my hero, Bear.

The thing I've never been able to really grapple with successfully is being able to crank out a five-pager (or some entity within that arena) while working on a novel (which, for about 80% of my writing time, I do). How've you managed it? I know, for me, once I get going on a longer narrative, all my short story attempts end up at like 15-20 pages (if they even get completed).
Um. Gosh. I don't know. Some stories are just meant to be shorter than others....
I'm both sorry and glad to see this. Sorry because not having the passion hurts. I spent more than a year without it this past year, and just kept on flaying myself for why I couldn't produce.

Then came the fanfic and the reminder that I do, in fact, love to write.

But I still couldn't find the passion for the original stories, despite them being ideas I loved and characters I really wanted to love. I just didn't have the burning desire to tell them.

Last night at about 3am, it all bust wide for me. I read what you'd probably consider simple relationship smut, but I found in bigboobedcanuck's Love Match not only an empassioned romance, but also the passion I'd been interrogating myself about. She loved her characters and ached for their happiness.

And that, the ache for the characters to find their way, meet their lifemate, heal, grow, whatever the story is about is the "passion" I was missing. I just didn't care enough about my characters.

I got up and found your post, and this line to fall in love with some of my new stuff before I have to write it slammed the realization home. The problem with my original stories is that I don't know them well enough to love them. This made me glad.

Perverse, I know, but in its way, that realization provided the answer and the salve for the fear that I'd never find the passion for stories I wanted to love. Write the fanfic, write the novellas about characters I do know and love but aren't the "big book", and keep doing the research, the plotting, the character charts and going on long walks and silly dates with the "big books" until I do love them.

So, thanks. And good luck with falling in love again. :)
;-) And good luck to you, too.
Having just had three books fall out of my schedule, I am finding myself staring at what's left and thinking something to the effect of, "OMG, the world will end if I don't fill all this free time up with 356398707 NEW BOOKS!"

It is very difficult to convince myself that the world will not end. It absolutely had not occurred to me that in fact it might be a lot more fun to write if I don't fill up all that free time with 356398707 new books.

*clutches head*
Peace, dude.

Go read a mystery novel.
Its funny how you can stumble across something the very moment when you need it the most.

Thank you for the inspiration.
Hey, a pleasure to provide.