Make Work

A huge part of writing is finding the time to sit down and write on a daily basis.

It’s harder than you think. Ever tried to keep a daily diary for any length of time? It’s really hard work. Of course, you can make excuses for yourself, because if you’re anything like me you probably have a very boring day to day existence.

Got up this morning, ate toast with peanut butter, got dressed, went to work. Yay.

See writing isn’t just sitting down and trying to find five hundred or so words* to say. You have to find five hundred or so interesting words to say. And then you may want to check to make sure they have great rhythm, sparkling wit and poetic overtones if you have any ambitions of standing out of the crowd.

Like any skill set, that doesn’t just happen. I’m sorry to say that it takes a lot of work, the kind of careful repetition and constant mistakes that you’ll only be willing to put up with if you’re really dedicated to the craft. It’s one of those things that prompt writers to smile tolerantly when people say they’ve decided to write a book. Those poor fools, we think, they have no idea what they’ve signed up for. I wonder if they’ll make it through?

It often feels like make work, because half the stuff you crank out you realize almost instantly will never be fit to be seen by others, unless, of course, you’re trying to convince them that everyone makes mistakes. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever tried any kind of serious writing, the kind that aspires to something besides a B+ in a college course you don’t really care about. It’s the kind of writing that, no matter how hard you go over it, will never yield value comparable to what you invested in it.

It’s a lot like athletics. No one cares how many times you post a four minute mile, that’s not a real achievement anymore. But unless you can do that, you’ll never get anywhere close to posting a time that counts in competitive cross-country running.

I want to assure you that I don’t view what I publish here as make work. I take everything I do here very seriously, just like an athlete in training. But just like an athlete, I’m not always going to be in top form. While I’ve got lead time and the power to edit my work, and I’m trying to keep ahead a few weeks and to allow for unexpected events, I’m pretty sure I’m still going to post some downright bad stuff from time to time.

Hopefully you’ll stick it out anyway. It’s not easy to write fiction that is both fun and thoughtful, but I want to do it well. Things kick off on October 1st, and I hope you’ll tune in and let me know how I’m doing.

 

*When I first wrote this sentence it said, “five hundred words or so” instead of “five hundred or so words”. Fortunately I caught and changed the wording in a clear example of the kind of exciting editorial decisions writers must make on a daily basis.

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