Productivity at Any Cost?

February 1, 2017 0

This month I wrote 2200 words, most of it on the revision train. I had expected to finish The Pawn of Isis and send it out to beta readers today. But…my mother died. Very quickly, of cancer. There were hospital visits, and then funeral arrangements, and apartment clearing, and grief, then grief with illness. Right now, I think I’m beginning to get back on my feet.  Ask me if I could write through any of that. I clocked 1.5 hours of sheer escape. And that’s it. Desperation writing, which I could not find more time to do.

There are those writers who will tell you that you must write every day, or else you are not serious. Well. I think that advice really, really needs to change. I am a serious writer. Hey, I am the turtle of writing. Slow and steady, in pre-planned time chunks, never a sprinter, always a plodder, moving forward in the way each book demands. I have a full-time job. Relationships I value. I am not a procrastinator. And yet, I don’t write every day.

Some days, I can’t write. Maybe work was too demanding. Maybe I’m tired or sick. Maybe the unexpected has occurred. As a matter of fact, many, many writers have full-time jobs and other obligations. I begin to think that most of us do these days. We value insurance, we value retirements. We value human contact. And a stable income that comes at reasonable intervals

I am not dissing full-time writers. I am saying that my career plan is very different. And even if my career plan weren’t, I suspect most writers would have a hard time finding voice with the month I’ve had. Many of us are having trouble with the current climate of our country.

I believe we need to be gentle and forgiving with ourselves. I could berate myself for my not reaching my goal, but I just can’t see it right now. I’m not a machine. We are not machines. We are human beings, artists, who feel deeply, else we would not be writers, artists, creators. And we live in extraordinary times. Sometimes the times inflict the extraordinary upon us.

Write when you can. Write when it gives you joy. Don’t make it a chore or a goal you didn’t reach. And when you can write, appreciate the gift of time, the gift of motivation, the gift of creativity. Right now, that’s what gives me light and hope.

Mission accomplished

January 31, 2017 0

The first (only?) round of E’ville is out the door as of yesterday. Many thanks to everyone who contributed in ways great and small–no way would this have been possible without all of you. I have quite a few thoughts about the whole process and what it’s taught me; rather than push all the podcasts off the front page, I’ve shared it on my own blog.

We’re just getting warmed up. Stay tuned for more off-kilter side projects!

57.0 – Paradise Lost

January 19, 2017 0

un_plAuthor and event organizer extraordinaire Sean Patrick Kelley joins us to chat about one of our favorite writing workshops, Paradise Lost in San Antonio. Sean has a lot of thoughts on community building for authors, and PL is perhaps the most successful blend of craft and merriment for burgeoning writers. A few registration slots remain, so what are you waiting for?

The Year of Living Authorly: Post 2 Online Presence

January 17, 2017 0

Some of you might know that this year my novel The Vessel of Ra comes out from Curiosity Quills Press, and I am getting ready to gear up to promote that book. Over at my website, I’ve posted entry one of this ongoing series The Year of Living Authorly.

Until recently, my primary activity as an author has been to craft stories to the best of my abilities and get rejected. I had rejection down to a science. 🙂 However, the rejections started getting more acceptance-like, and then they actually turned into acceptances, and then I had a book accepted and an agent took me and bam! I am in new territory.

So this series is to educate me about being a publishing author and I thought you might enjoy being taken along for the ride. I thought tonight, since I’m kicking off my part of this series on Unreliable Narrators, that I should talk about online presence. I do know a little bit about that, although I am no guru. We hope to have a guru on the show in February.

Clearly, I am online. As in right now. Where can you find me online? Twitter (@cathschaffstump). Facebook (both an author and a personal page). My own website. Here. I am given advice about where I should be. For example, I am publishing a YA book, so I should be on Tumbler, maybe. Or Pinterest. Or Snapchat.

The truth of the matter is online can in fact take away huge chunks of time in your life. But at the same time, maybe some online is good. Not the buy my book barrage that some people think is useful, but rather the hey, I’m talking about interesting things, or I’m a person. Maybe if you like hanging out with me a little by my book. Or, even more honestly, this is me. Buy my book or not.

I like being online. I debated whether to start being on LiveJournal (remember LiveJournal? My blog hooks up to it still.) back in 2002, thinking that it would consume all the time I should use writing. And, it can do that. But I like writing essays and reviews for their own sake, so it’s not hard for me to find things to talk about.  When I’m drafting, I like to live tweet my action and word count on Twitter. Facebook is more for authorly announcements, although these days my personal space is largely political (who’s isn’t right now?)

The point you should take from the previous paragraph is this: first of all, writing is number one. If you’re spending more time writing online, maybe you are a different kind of writer, but if you want to write short stories or novels, no amount of time you spend on line will magically make that happen. Yeah. You know this already. Secondly, if you don’t like being online, you probably shouldn’t do it, or you should find a way to do it that is the least painful you can. Sort of like finding the workout that is best for you kind of thing.

Now, let’s talk a little about this podcast. Unreliable Narrators is a different kind of endeavor. Certainly, it can be a publicity platform for the four of us, but it is not only about that. We felt the need to put something fun that we enjoyed into the world. In the writerverse, sometimes no can get you down. So this was another creative endeavor used to rejuvenate us. Don’t be afraid to get out there online in a different format you want to try. There’s youtube, podcasting, all sorts of things you can do. Again, make sure you’re having a good time.

Also realize that if you do have readers, they will want you to put things out. I have lost a lot of my readers recently for my blog, because I spend more time writing. You can count on me writing an article a week here and an article a week there, plus link posts to all the awesome on Unreliable Narrators when I’m not posting an article at my blog Writer Tamago. If your blog goes silent, that’s clearly a sign doing the whole online thing for you is not a blog.  Try a variety of experiments. Find what works for you.

Is being online a requirement? I’d say if you can be, yes, if you’re suited to it and you find a way to do it that’s fun for you. It’s certainly one of the ways to put yourself out there. We’ll talk about more of them a little later on. And this kind of online is about you. There’s also online that can be about what you’re writing. I have some ideas about that, but I should save that for a different post.

Next up–going to Cons!

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