Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blame it on Cinderella

There are two problems that I can see with overnight success, the first being: it doesn't really exist. The second is, it can be proven to exist.

This sucks for writers because, no matter how much we say we know it won't be easy and that we're willing to put the work in (and in fact, no matter how truthful we're being when we say it), all of us hope - and I would say that deep down, a lot of us believe - that somewhere along the way, somewhere in the midst of the sweat and tears and restless nights, something will just go whoosh and we'll wake up one morning to a book deal on our front step and a talk show host begging for a prime time interview.

Of course, it doesn't really work like that. It can't, unless you know someone, or at the very least, know someone who knows someone, and even then there are no guarantees. But we keep hoping, because after all, overnight success can be proven. This is because, to the public, every success seems like it happened overnight. Take someone who is ludicrously rich and famous. Say, Lady Gaga. She seemed, to the majority of people, to spring out of nowhere. First, there was nothing, then there was Just Dance and Poker Face and suddenly everyone knew who she was - but she'd been performing for years before that. It's pretty much the same way with all celebrities (including celebrity authors), because most of us don't know anything about them until they're already famous - so to us, they go from 0-famous in, at the very most, two seconds. Proof that overnight successes not only happen, they happen every day.

Part of this proof, I think, can also be attributed to the fact that we as writers (and the more I think about this, the more I think I should say we as Westerners) really, really want to believe that by tomorrow, we could have everything we've ever wanted - so even if famous authors come out and say, I did X for years and years and I worked really hard to get an agent and then I did Y, we tend to only catch the end of it. The bit that goes, And then Z was published and the next thing I knew, the phone was ringing off the hook.

I blame it all on Cinderella. Here's a girl whose life sucked, who worked hard, who learned all sorts of useful skills like sewing and communicating with animals, but who was ultimately content to stay where she was - and what we're supposed to remember about her isn't that she worked hard or faced injustice bravely; it's that one day, her problems magically disappeared and she got everything she'd ever dreamed of. Stupid fairy tales, filling our heads with fluff.

... of course, they were right about true love and the prince... we can hope.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Graphs vs. Booze

So, despite the whole not-having-a-day-job thing, my plan to write full time hasn't exactly been working out. I'd like to say that there are many reasons for this, moving and looking for a day job and stuff like that. The truth is, I could write, if I put the time in. I spent fifteen minutes today looking at FailBook. Entertaining, yes. Helpful to me in any way, not so much. I just feel so lost.

My solution to this (same as my solution to a lot of things, really) was to make a spreadsheet and set a goal for myself. The spreadsheet is really simple: Across the top are the days of the month. Down the side, are a list of my current stories (some of my current stories, I should say; I have some to add) and a space for new work. In the remaining spaces will be my word count, IE the total word count for each of the stories and the total word count for each day. The goal I set is also really simple. I will write a minimum of 1000 words per day and at least 500 of those have to be on an existing story. The rest can be spread amongst anything, other existing stories, new material, blog entries, etc.*

Because I'm a nerd, what I'm most excited about is being able to track my progress through the graphs which I will periodically make. I'm hoping this will give me the motivation I need to get back on the writing track. My other (not as good) solution is to resort to Redbull and gin, and see where that gets me. At the moment, I'm thinking graphs are a better idea

*Yes, this counts. I've just upped today's word count by 286 :)

Edit: I wrote this on May 1st. Since then, I should have written almost 3000 words, and I'm sitting at just over 700. Shame does not begin to describe it. Anyway, should get cracking; I have a lot of catching up to do.