Tag Archives: writing process

and now my tale is told

So Sword and Star – the final book in the Root Code trilogy (by the way, it honestly continues to be somewhat frustrating to have a trilogy split between two different publishers) – has been out for a month now, and it’s kind of interesting to look back at its trajectory and its placswordandstar_1200x1800hre in my head now.

Some of you might recall that this book wasn’t even supposed to happen. Neither it nor book two – Fall and Rising – was supposed to happen. Or at least for a long time the odds did not look good. F&R was already written when I had to start shopping it around to other publishers, but that’s a far cry from a book “happening” as far as I’m concerned, because an MS sitting on your hard drive is not on the same level as something that people can actually exchange for-real money for. I had one book in limbo, one book only existent in rough form in my head, and for a while I was pretty certain nothing would ever come of both unless I caved and self-published. Which, for a variety of reasons, I didn’t want to do.

Then they both happened, and that was frankly a little difficult to deal with, even with the relief and the excitement. Because I had become so sure I was never going back to that part of that universe. Then very FallAndRising_500x750suddenly I was tossed back in and immersed in it for months.

Now it’s all done. It’s over. I might return to that universe in another book, but it won’t be the same, and it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever deal with these protagonists again (and my villain(s) won’t be dealt with either, because… Well, if you read the dang thing you’ll see).

Something that did happen after the immersion and the editing was over – which has happened to me more than once but which remains profoundly strange and will probably always remain so – is that my brain completely decoupled. Abruptly it was like the book wasn’t mine anymore. It felt like it had been written by someone else. I look back over it – which I frankly have not done for a bit (IT’S NOT THAT IT ISN’T GOOD, I THINK IT’S VERY GOOD) – and I can barely remember writing any of it. Talking about it feels like talking about something largely unconnected from me.

8870200266_3104ed4d7f_o-220x330This also happened with my Casting the Bones trilogy. To be honest, I don’t even recall a lot of the second two books right now, like a language you haven’t spoken in years.

(THOSE BOOKS ARE ALSO VERY GOOD I THINK JUST SAYING)

Interestingly, I’ve noticed that this happens way less with my fanfiction. I still experience that odd disconnection, where it feels like someone else wrote it and I don’t remember a fair amount of the production process – though some parts of it I remember very vividly – but the story itself remains much fresher and more immediate in my mind (this remains especially true with my ginormous ridiculous Walking Dead AU magnum opus, I’ll Be Yours For a Song, which I am still not over). The decoupling process is not as complete. Since returning to writing fanfiction, it’s been fascinating to contrast my very different writerly relationship with it versus my “original” stuff (I dislike the fanfiction/original dichotomy just about as much as I dislike the virtual/real one, and for similar reasons). Again, I think it has nothing to do with quality. It’s about how the work is produced and what parts of Writer Brain are engaged.

I guess what I’m saying here – among other half-coherent things – is that there is a particular feeling of Overness that I seem to experience with the final endings of books that I don’t experience with anything else. In a way it’s uncomfortable, because I feel like I should feel more of a deep connection to something I wrote. But on the other hand I think it makes sense. Working on a book is draining; working on a series is even more so. I think that on a very deep level, my Writer Brain needed to be well and truly done with that story. It couldn’t leave the universe in half-measures. It had to let go completely.

Which I guess is healthy? I hope so, anyway.

Regardless, now I need to figure out what’s next.

Writing: practice resurrection

image courtesy of erichhh

image courtesy of erichhh

I wrote this the other day for my Tumblr but I feel like it fits here as well. So here it is.

  • Write.
  • Read.
  • Accept that your first draft will probably be shit. Accept that it can be shit. It doesn’t make you a bad writer. It makes you a writer. You’re writing.
  • Fear editing. Do not let your fear of editing stop you from editing.
  • Recognize that creativity is a muscle and becomes stronger with exercise. Don’t wait for inspiration; you screw yourself that way, because inspiration is fickle and also does not like you or support you emotionally as a person. Your brain is plastic. You can literally train it to produce words on command. It’s not necessarily easy and they aren’t necessarily going to be good words, and everyone is different. But it (probably) can be done.
  • You’re going to have periods where nothing you produce feels good. Where it all feels bad. Where you’re sure you would do the entire world a great favor by no longer producing words at all. It’s okay. It almost certainly won’t last. Try to look at it like the flu; let it run its course. If you can, keep writing anyway.
  • You’re going to have periods where you can’t write at all. Try to write anyway. Stop when it really starts to be painful and/or upsetting. See above re: flu.
  • Be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to take breaks. Give yourself permission to take vacations. Eat healthy. Drink enough water. Get plenty of sleep. You’re working with your brain but your brain rides around in your body and you need to take care of one to take care of the other.
  • Don’t let things sit. They will become terrifying.
  • You will never be the writer you want to be. Ever. Probably. Regardless, get comfortable with the idea.
  • Under no circumstances should you compare yourself to other people. It kills you. *points to chest* Here.
  • Recognize that you’re going to compare yourself to other people anyway so don’t beat yourself up about it too much. You are probably going to resent other writers, great writers, who are also your friends, and you’re going to feel like a jerk. You’re not a jerk. At least, you’re not any more of a jerk than they are, because I guarantee they are doing the same thing. Very possibly at this very moment they are resenting you.
  • Focus as little as possible on what you “should” be writing. Write whatever the fuck you want to write and worry about the details later, if indeed the worrying needs to be done at all (probably it doesn’t).
  • Seek the advice of other writers. Take whatever advice they have to give with entire mounds of salt.
  • Embrace criticism. Remember that it will always hurt.
  • Embrace rejection. Remember that it will always hurt.
  • It is a sad fact that quality doesn’t always equal attention. You’ll probably write great stuff – stuff which you know for an objective fact is great, and people won’t read it. While at the same time they’re all reading and raving about something else which is frankly not very good. No, I don’t know why. People are baffling. Make your peace with that.
  • To the extent that you can, don’t write for the sake of attention. This is something else which you’ll probably do anyway; just recognize that it usually doesn’t go anywhere productive.
  • If it comes to attention? Pay attention. To everything. Writing is about the process of paying attention.
  • One of my favorite quotes is from Wendell Berry’s fantastic poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”: Listen to carrion – put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come. Life is temporal. Life exists and moves through time. Words and the process of producing them is the process of creating static points of meaning in that time. Things will arrive unexpectedly, from places you never regarded as productive. This is where paying attention becomes important.
  • That said, don’t take writing seriously. It’s ridiculous. It’s just a completely fucking ridiculous thing, as ridiculous as anything human beings have ever done.
  • Do it anyway.
  • Write.

Words and scar tissue

IMG_0787This past Wednesday, my story “Singing With All My Skin and Bone” came out in this month’s issue of Nightmare. I’ve written before about the place out of which that story came – my experiences as a child with a mental illness that manifests in compulsive self-injury and the bullying that resulted from it. I’ve also written about the process of digging into that old pain and finding a way to turn it into a story, how one takes something so ugly and humiliating and shows it to the world.

A few people have told me that it resonated powerfully with them, that it touched a similar kind of pain in them. Which I’m… I don’t know that I want to say I’m happy, but there’s a part of me that’s glad, because you know you’ve written something true when people connect to it on a deeper level. And I know that reading something like that can make one feel less alone.

But I’ve been thinking about something else, in part in connection with an article my mother sent me a while ago about the fear inherent in putting your writing out into the world. It’s a generally accepted idea that the more personal the story, the more frightening it is to have it out in public.

And I didn’t feel that. Having it published wasn’t frightening for me. Submitting it to editors wasn’t even all that frightening. Once it was written, it was done, and in a lot of ways I didn’t think much about it anymore, except in as much as I took satisfaction in the feeling that I had written it well.

For me, the writing is the more frightening thing, in the fear of not doing something justice and – even more – in the fear of opening old wounds in the first place. We’re told we shouldn’t make ourselves vulnerable, and having such a personal story published is a kind of profound vulnerability, but for some reason, for me, the vulnerability of writing helped. It was a stretch. It made me more flexible, and it made stretching again less painful.

Brené Brown has a wonderful talk on the power and strength of vulnerability, how it has the ability to make one feel joy and peace and a deeper connection to others. To feel more of everything. I think that in order to write true things you have to find a way to feel things truly, and that can be terrifying and painful, but what you find under the terror and the pain is something that goes beyond writing a good story.

I’m happy with how my story turned out. I think it’s a good story. But ultimately, for me, the story is incidental. It was the process of writing it that was the most powerful.

I hope I can find a way to keep that process going.

What I’ve learned so far in 2014

Yesterday I finished doing something I’d never done before: Scrapping 95% of a book and rewriting it from scratch.

Initially I was committed to not doing so at all. I wanted to tell myself that it was about principle – dammit, it was the story I told and it was the story it was going to be – but I now recognize that stance as being augmented with a  jengahealthy amount of terror, as well as a lot of ego. Because it is terrifying, looking back on something you’ve spent weeks and even months on, recognizing that it needs a major overhaul, and diving in. In some ways I think it’s much less terrifying – or at least it was and still is for me – to start something entirely new. Extensive rewriting feels almost like a sadistic game of Jenga, wherein you’re shifting pieces around, stacking and restacking, and one wrong move will bring the whole thing down. Which isn’t true, of course – nothing you can do can collapse a story beyond repair, unless the foundations of the thing itself are just no good – but it still felt like that when I started out, and I wasn’t sure I could really pull it off.

But I was determined to try.

I finished the first version of Fall and Rising (Line and Orbit 2: Electric Boogaloo) last year, and it was a very different book from its predecessor. It was focused on different characters, and it was nastier,  more emotionally brutal, and possessed of some potentially uncomfortable politics. When it was done, I was very adamant that it wasn’t going to get toned down or lightened up – but then I had trouble selling it. And after a couple of rounds of that, I realized that I had to admit to myself that the problem was not necessarily the publisher – as in finding the right one – but instead the book. It was a good story – I still believe that – but it wasn’t the right story. It wasn’t the right successor. It needed to be something different.

It was really, really hard to admit that to myself. But it was liberating when I did, and that feeling of liberation did a lot to blunt the fear when I went back and hacked it to pieces. It remained as I started rebuilding, and it carried me through until I truly began to feel like I was working well inside the world of the book. It was like giving myself permission to take all the work I did and all the time I put into it and declare to myself that none of that mattered.

What mattered was writing the right story.

I didn’t have to hold onto the book just because I worked hard. I didn’t have to hold onto it because of all the time I spent. I sure as hell didn’t have to hold onto it because of some stubborn, misguided idea of what my art should look like. I didn’t have to hold onto it at all. I could let it go and just start (mostly) fresh. It was okay. I was okay.

So yesterday I finished it. For those who care about length at all, it’s about 115k words long, close to the length of Line and Orbit and in fact a good bit longer than Fall and Rising’s initial version. But way more important: I think it’s a better book, and it’s one that wouldn’t have been written if I hadn’t sucked it up and murdered my darlings.

I’d been thinking that the whole murder your darlings thing applied to small sentences and passages and turns of phrase. It does, and I suspect a lot of why I thought that has to do with the fact that I’m still more experienced with short stories than I am with novels. But it also applies on a macro scale. It applies to books, and to massive chunks of books. It would be difficult to overstate how major that was to realize.

What else has this process taught me? Marketability is not a dirty word. Changing something up in order to be able to sell it more easily is not (necessarily) a dirty thing. I didn’t initially start thinking seriously about a rewrite for artistic reasons, I did it because I wanted to sell the damn book and get paid. That line of thinking led me to the realization that I could make the book better, but I might not have gotten there if money weren’t also a concern. I’m in this game because I love it, but also because I want to someday be able to make (at least most of) a living off of it. That’s not something I need to be ashamed of. I’m embarrassed by how long it’s taken me to internalize that, and I’m still working on it.

So mostly what I’ve learned so far in 2014 is that I don’t need to be afraid of those things. I shouldn’t let them stop me from getting shit done. I shouldn’t let my own ego get in the way of producing good work that people want to pay for. I need to continue to work on getting out of my own way.

None of that is exactly new. But I think it’s all good stuff to start the year on.

Line and Orbit sequel news!

The news is that I’m rewriting it. Almost completely. Not going back through and changing some scenes around, not making some major adjustments. I mean I’m scrapping what I have and starting almost entirely from scratch. With the exception LineandOrbitof one subplot, and a few characters, it’s going to be a totally different book.

There are a number of reasons why I’m doing this. Some of it is that, on further consideration, there are  a number of aspects of Fall and Rising as the current version stands that simply don’t work as well as they could. I took on a lot in that book, and I’m not confident that I pulled all of it off as well as I might have. I’m not averse to failure, even in public, but it’s something that I also see no reason not to avoid if at all possible. A lot of Fall and Rising is uncomfortable, and I’m not convinced that all of it is uncomfortable in a good way.

Another reason is money. I want to sell this book and I want to get paid.

I haven’t had any luck finding a publisher for it as it is. This is a problem, and the problem is compounded by the fact that it’s a sequel, not a standalone novel. It’s also much bleaker than Line and Orbit, and while I love and value my bleak writing – my short fiction can be just brutal a lot of the time – I’m not sure that bleak is the right tone for this series. I don’t believe that sequels have to perfectly match their predecessors in tone, but I also don’t believe that they should be vastly different.

So while I dearly love Fall and Rising and while I’ve very proud of huge chunks of it, it’s going into the proverbial drawer and something else is happening. I view this as a learning experience. I don’t think it was a mistake, and I don’t think the effort I put into it was wasted. It just isn’t going to be what I thought it was.

The takeaway is that this never stops being an educational process.

So, as of right now, here are the things (I think) I know about this new version of the next chapter of Line and Orbit:

  • The focus is back on Adam and Lochlan. I love Eva and Kyle, and I think they’ll be showing up in a major way, but Adam and Lochlan were among the primary things that people seemed to fall in love with in the first book, and I think it makes sense to stick with them. That means that this is back to being primarily “M/M” (scare quotes because I am still not 100% comfortable with that categorical marker). There are a number of reasons why I think this is a Good Thing on the whole.
  • It’s not going to be as goddamn bleak. I think a lot of bad things will still happen, but not nearly to the degree that they were happening in the first version of the book.
  • Spoiler alert: For those of you who’ve read my story in Hellebore and Rue, you may see some familiar faces. I’m really pleased about this, and I’m happy that I’m doing this rewrite if only because I get to circle back around in that way.
  • Nkiruka, the would-be replacement for Ixchel, is still in the game.
  • The villain remains the same guy with  the same characterization. Because I love his perfect face.
  • It does essentially the same job as the first version. That is, setting up the third and final book in the series, in essentially the same way. We end at basically the same place, we’re just getting there by a very different route.

So that’s where things currently stand. I’ve started work on it and I don’t expect to blast through it nearly as fast as Labyrinthian (which takes place in the same ‘verse so will hopefully act as an appetite whettener), so we’re ideally talking a finished MS by the end of January at the latest. I’m also supposed to be writing Rookwar, the third book in the Casting the Bones trilogy, so Fall and Rising may get pushed back depending on what my priorities end up being. Oh, yeah, I’m also theoretically writing a doctoral dissertation. So there’s that.

Anyway, for those who are interested, them’s the haps.

On the completion of large things

I’m never sure what to do with myself after I finish a book. There used to be this huge sense of accomplishment and GO ME I’M AWESOME and I still do get sorta cocky about it because I wrote a book and it’s a thing I get to do, but mostly my internal sense is one of well thank Christ THAT’S over. This is true even if I’ve really been enjoying myself. I don’t know if I’m jaded or what, but that’s what seems to happen now.

So with Labyrinthian. I finished the primary editing pass yesterday and I think it’s pretty much ready to go off to the publisher, and I really love it as a book, but I look back over the 88k+ words I wrote and I just feel sort of tired, more than anything. Maybe it also comes from the now-distant discovery that finishing a novel isn’t the ticket to writerly success that I think a lot of us sort of subconsciously think it might be, even if we intellectually know it isn’t. You finish a novel and then… You have a novel. You have a bunch of words. Whoop-de-doo.

I’ve written stuff along these lines before, about how the anxiety and self-doubt don’t appear to go away regardless of how much you publish in however many great places – though it’s also true that I’m pretty much finished doubting my own raw ability – but this isn’t even anxiety and self-doubt so much as it is a crushing ennui. I feel sort of disengaged from a lot of things. I’m getting back on the horse regarding a lot of other things I neglected over the course of this whole process, and that’s great, but in terms of creative stuff, I feel so blah.

And of course I have another two books to write in the next few months. So there’s that.

Gatekeeping, “professional” writing, and are you kidding me with this

lolcatears

Moving is done. I am moved. For the moment I am no longer moving. If you want to see pictures of what the new place looks like, I posted some over here.

It’s a good place. It feels good. I am by no means in a position where I can select a space in which to live purely on the basis of how I think it’ll affect my creative productivity, but if I were, I think this might be the kind of place I’d choose. It’s roomy but not too roomy, which is great since I’m largely responsible for cleaning it. It’s bright and there are lots of windows. It’s secluded, far back from the road and not really very visible. It has a vaguely cottagey feel.

I’ve been giving myself a bit of a writing break – which means that I’ve cut my minimum wordcount back to 1000 a day, and not always every day – given that it turns out that moving is one of those Traumatic Life Events that gives you headaches and wibbly muscles and bad skin. As of right now I’m working on Ravenblood (the Crowflight sequel), and a short story, which feels like a light workload for me. What else am I doing? Reading. Listening to audiobooks. That sort of idle, meditative cleaning that can be so good for restorative inactivity. Napping. Watching movies. Poking at my dissertation. Gearing up to teach again in the fall.

Something else has happened, which looks sort of unimportant on paper but which has turned out to have some emotional repercussions: I gave myself permission to skip ASA this year.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a PhD candidate in sociology and ASA is my discipline’s gigantic annual meeting, sort of Worldcon for sociologists except nowhere near as fun (you may note that I’m not going to Worldcon either). ASA is professionally important – though I’m starting to think it may not be as important as they want you to think – not just because of the panels and the networking but because it’s a feature of one’s professional identity. You’re a sociologist? You go to ASA. It’s one of the ways you know you’re a sociologist. Or so it’s been sold to me.

So I’m not at ASA this weekend, and that nasty little jerkbrain voice – the one that insists that I only passed research statistics and my comprehensive exams because it was too much trouble to fail me – is hissing you are not a real sociologist you fucking fakey faker HOBBYIST

My own brain is enough of a jerk to engage in professional gatekeeping of the most abusive kind. I can’t escape the suspicion that this is because it’s been trained to do so by others.

In the past, I’ve made no secret of how unimpressed I am by gatekeeping of most kinds. There’s the good kind, the kind that ensures actual quality of a product and makes it easier to locate good things, but then there’s the kind that’s purely ego-based, that exists to keep the riffraff out so those of us on the inside can feel better about ourselves. The classic example of this is the carefully policed boundary between “literary” and “genre” fiction, but there are others. There are others that have little or nothing to do with fiction. The most destructive forms of it are the kind that betray the people who buy into them, that set them up to fail in their own eyes. This is one of the reasons why academia has become so rife with abuse, both of grad students and non-tenure track faculty: our identity as academics is so important that many of us find it difficult to leave, even when our conditions are horrible: crippling overwork, awful pay, no benefits, no real opportunity for advancement. We don’t want to be “fake” or “hobbyists”. As long as we remain in the academy, we can be “real” academicians. In fact, suffering through awful conditions can become part of how we know we’re “real”.

I am unimpressed by the very idea of “real”, for the most part. It hurts people. It makes them doubt themselves. It makes people more concerned with ticking little identity boxes than actually doing what they need to be doing. And it makes people more inclined to look down on others, to maintain outmoded and outdated – and often racist, sexist, and homophobic – borders and boundaries. It makes people unkind. Women can’t be “real” scientists or “real” science fiction writers. SF with feelings or romance is not “real” SF.

Enter Lisa Morton’s piece on “real” professional writers.

I’m late to the party, and the article has been rebutted handily elsewhere. John Scalzi’s take is good. Brian Keene’s take is excellent. But as usual, especially given the direction of my own thoughts lately, I wanted to toss my two cents into the pond.

Essentially, Lisa Morton offers an unhealthily stringent, privilege-soaked, rigid picture of what a “professional writer” looks like and what it takes to be one. Apparently writing is the single most important thing to a professional writer. Apparently a professional writer sets aside everything that is not writing. Apparently a professional writer has no time for restorative inactivity or recreation (re-creation, people, there’s a reason why it’s called that; we need it to be whole). A professional writer never steps away, never rests, never calls it quits. If you can’t adhere to these standards, you’re not a professional writer but a “hobbyist”. Doesn’t matter whether or not you get paid. Doesn’t matter whether or not you can support yourself/your family writing sans day job – a truly awful measure, since very few of us are fortunate enough to be able to do that, no matter how hard we work. Doesn’t matter. You goddamn hobbyist.

It’s entirely possible that Morton didn’t mean all of this the way it comes off. How she comes off is profoundly dickish, but I’m willing to bet she’s actually a lovely person. But I don’t know her as a person, so all I can talk about with any authority is what she’s written, and what she’s written is dickish. It’s also hurtful. The kind of lifestyle she’s advocating – not only advocating but presenting as ideal – is not only wrong-headed but, as I said above, probably deeply unhealthy for most people. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t want to do it. No one I know could do it or would want to.

So in the interest of really plumbing the depths of the thing, let’s take her quiz.

1. Is your home/work place messy because that time you’d put into cleaning it is better spent writing? No. Like I said above, having a clean, attractive workspace is an important component of the mental and emotional state that allows me to be productive. I can’t work in squalor or disorder because I’m not comfortable in squalor or disorder. Also I like cleaning.

2. Do you routinely turn down evenings out with friends because you need to be home writing instead? When I turn down evenings with friends, it’s because I’m feeling fragile enough that being social feels overwhelming. Even then, I try not to. Interacting with people makes me mentally healthier, generally. Being mentally healthy helps me to be more productive. I like having friends. Friends are important.

3. Do you turn off the television in order to write? I can’t write with the TV on, so I guess yeah, I do, but I also like TV shows. I watch TV shows. You bet your ass I’ll be watching Breaking Bad tonight. When Supernatural and American Horror Story start back up again, I’ll be setting aside time to watch those too. Yesterday I spent the evening on Frontiere(s), which I’d been wanting to see forever, and it was a blast. It’s also worth pointing out that consuming stories helps one to write stories, and TV/movies are not exempt from that.

4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise? I recognize that useful crit is usually more valuable. But praise is valuable too. Feeling like you’re making people happy and doing something right is a huge motivator. Of course I want praise. Of course sometimes I’d rather get praise. I’m not a robot.

5. Do you plan vacations around writing opportunites (either research or networking potential)? My vacations – the few real ones I ever get to take – are vacations. I don’t write during them, or I try not to. I don’t work at all. I vacation. Again – and I can’t emphasize this enough – doing so helps me to be more productive when I get back to work.

6. Would you rather be chatting about the business of writing with another writer than exchanging small talk with a good friend? No. Why would anyone feel this way? I mean, your mileage may vary and everyone is different, but seriously.

7. Have you ever taken a day job that paid less money because it would give you more time/energy/material to write? This is one I might say yes to, because when I’m just absolutely fed up with grad school and being poor and feeling like I’m in professional limbo, the fact that it allows me abundant flexible free time in which to write keeps me where I am. I recognize how lucky I am in that. I intend to take full advantage. But I don’t want to do that forever.

8. Are you willing to give up the nice home you know you could have if you devoted that time you spend writing to a more lucrative career? See above. Also see above in that I actually have a nice home. Again, my privilege.

9. Have you done all these things for at least five years? I’ve only been getting paid to write consistently for four years. Thanks for introducing a completely arbitrary time threshold. That’s very helpful.

10. Are you willing to live knowing that you will likely never meet your ambitions, but you hold to those ambitions nonetheless? Honestly? Yeah. I know I’ll probably never write as well as, say, Cat Valente, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to try. But I think that’s true for most people with a dream. That’s sort of what a dream is. I’m not sure it has a whole lot to do with the rest of these measure of professionalism.

This is bullshit. There’s an addendum at the bottom of the piece that suggests that Morton didn’t intend to include people who have to work day jobs to support themselves, but I think that’s kind of bullshit as well; the whole thing reads – to me – like Morton is including all writers, and then declaring the vast majority of them, for whom this is all basically impossible and entirely undesirable – not real professional writers for not wanting/not being able to perform to her standards.

I don’t know what to call that other than bullshit.

“If you’ve already glanced at these questions and scoffed, you are a hobbyist. And that’s okay, as long as you don’t call yourself a professional. At least around irritable me.

Okay, Lisa. Sure. Hi, I’m Sunny, and I’m a hobbyist.

I wrote a post that sort of dealt with this topic a while ago. I said that a writer makes sacrifices in order to find time to write, but that’s not all a writer does. A writer reads, goes out and experiences life, does whatever they need to do in order to be able to write, including things that are not writing. Do you get paid for your words? Congratulations: you are a professional writer. Now get back to work. Even if “work” for you right now consists of TV or staring into space.

I’m going to end this with a quote from Brian Keene’s rebuttal, which I think gets to the heart of it.

A professional writer is not deemed so by how much they get paid per word, or how many words they produce, or how many awards they’ve won, or what position they hold in a writer’s organization, or how much networking they do at conventions. A professional writer does one thing — they treat their writing professionally. They produce. They edit. They constantly strive to get better. They sit their ass down in a chair and put their fingers on a keyboard and they type.

A professional writer spends more time writing than they do talking about writing.