Monday, June 13, 2005
Another character -- Skye from Mirrors
Part of what I've been blogging about the last few times was inspired by a series of posts in which a newcomer to FM implied that becoming more efficient writers would automatically lead to becoming better writers. When we pointed out that this wasn't always true, he claimed that changing work habits for the better is an idea foreign to writers. I think he wasn't ready for the idea that writers are individuals with very strong ideas about their work -- or that many of the people he was speaking with were published authors. If he had been around other writer's websites, this isn't generally as common as it is at FM. Perhaps he even associated any writers' site with the idea that the people there have not succeeded at their work, rather than being a site of writers helping writers.
I'm not sure how often he's had contact with other writers. Here I am, about nine years into Forward Motion, a year and half into the two year novel course for over 100 people -- and I know what writers at all stages of their careers are like. Or rather 'not like' because there is no norm. I think now he has changed much of that attitude and that probably came from not having such direct contact with so many writers and learning that they really are a very diverse crowd with different needs and different approaches to writing.
Here's the thing: What he has found appears to be working very well for him, at least as far as production of stories is concerned. Some others might even do well to adopt something along this line. It would not, however, work for everyone because all writers are different -- and that is not an excuse to ignore different approaches. It is a statement that says not all writers will benefit from forcing themselves to work in a certain way. We are not all the same writer, and I wouldn't expect him to work well with my methods, either.
That lack of direct knowledge about writers is the way it used to be. There was no Internet and very few areas where a writer could connect with another on a really personal basis. You might have been able to read a few magazines or pick up some how-to books, but talking with writers in a personal one-on-one basis and learning how they actually work was nearly impossible.
So maybe, along with all the other things that places like FM offer, there is the important underlying fact that writers get to learn that there is no one true way. They can learn that 'all writers are different' isn't an excuse, but a truth and what suits me is not going to work anyone else. No one else has the work I do, and more importantly to all writers -- no one else has my imagination. My ability to tell stories, for good or bad, is distinctly my own. How I tell stories is not just the words I use, or the fact that I sit in this chair and type. It is my approach to stories, the themes I bring to them, and even the mood that I'm in when I work.
In the last two years I've had to drastically reinvent the way in which I work, mostly because I don't have the time that I used to. I don't want to lose the amount of productivity I've had because that has worked well for me in both creation of material and editing and sales. But I do have other projects that I need to take care of -- FM, Estand, DTF, Vision, and the 2YN classes. And add to that the digital art stuff that I'm just learning and love, and you have a lot of stuff just on the computer. I also have my photography and there's things around the house that I had to do, no matter how much I would like to ignore them. And web sites for the county and for various writer-friends.
Efficiency for me, as a writer, would be to drop all the projects that I do for free to help other writers -- which would be pretty much everything, when you look at it. I'd have a lot more time to write and edit. I'm not sure I'd be very happy with it, though.
I don't get paid for the work I do at FM, Estand, Vision or 2YN. I will get some pay for the DTF stuff, but it's based on sales of books that DTF puts out, and that means getting my act together and working on that damned marketing plan again... which means less time for writing.
Now, everyone who knows me knows that I love to write. There is nothing I would rather do more, and when I can't get to writing I get annoyed. Sometimes I even leave work that needs to be done for one of the other areas in order to get some writing done. It's a bad way to be. I shouldn't let any of it get away from me.
But you know what? I still spent last night working on Silky 2 rather than editing Vision articles or putting up new pages for Estand. Or doing any of the myriad of things I need to get done for DTF and FM. I did it because it was already 1am on Monday morning and I'd already worked on other things for this weekend. Silky 2 called to me.
And that's how I work. I'm not efficient, but I get a lot done eventually. Today I'll be working on Vision stuff and then back to writing again. I'll come up with ideas as soon as I go to bed and grab my IPAQ to jot them down. I'll work on art because it's fun, even though there is nothing I'll really do with it, except look at some of my characters and see a little more in them than I did before.
But mostly, I'll learn new things that work for me.
And that's how it will always be for writers, whether we have groups hanging out together or we're alone with our computers. There is no one true way, but there sure are a lot of other ways to try until you find what works for you!