Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"There's no time for us..." Queen

A publishing consultant once told me that only five percent of all writers make a living from their work.  That means the vast majority of all writers, aspiring or already published, need a day job to keep a roof over their head and their bellies full.  This leads to one of the great conflicts in a writer's life: trying to find time to work.

When I began writing Isabelle's Confession I was working as a substitute teacher, which meant I had time to write nearly every day, but when I went back to teaching full-time lesson plans, grading, and my students' needs had to come first.  Writing got pushed to the end of a very long "to-do" list, which meant that sometimes weeks would pass before I could find time to get serious work done.  I also had to develop some strategies to help keep my writing in the forefront.  I began carrying little spiral notebooks in my purse, in my jacket, and in my jogging coat.  I exercise in the morning before going to work, which means most of the year it's dark.  With nothing much to see by streetlight, I find I can focus on a scene and think about where it needs to go without distraction and I can put it in my notebook, which I then transfer to my main notebook to be incorporated into the book.  I also got a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones to help me focus on my writing when Patient Husband is home.  Reading over what I've already read usually helps me pick up the thread of what I was working on and allows me to move the story along, as does research, although I have to be careful not to get lost in the stacks of research for its own sake.  I also had to learn not to get overly frustrated by my often glacial writing pace.  The muse speaks when she's ready, and if you're doing all you can to create a comfortable place for her you just can't force things.  Thinking about your writing is work, as is editing, and both constitute progress as much as new words on the page do.  And, ultimately, as Stephen King said in his book On Writing:  Life isn't a support-system for art.  It's the other way around.

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