I started out this year with six very specific goals geared towards building a Writing Career of Significant Worth:
1) I want to write more…a lot more…as in I want to sweat, sneeze, and bleed fiction. Vomitus de Muse, Fiction Eruptus. That’s Latin for prolific and inspired.
2) I want to edit that fiction. No, not just edit it. I want to make that shit sparkle like Edward in the noonday sun.
3) I want to submit said sparkly fiction. Momma needs to get brave, pack them sandwiches, give them lots of hugs and kisses, and wish them good luck as she puts them in a cab. It is time for all the stories to grow up and fulfill their destiny. “And don’t come home without a paycheck!”
4) The platform, I wants to build one. What do you think we’re standing on here? Sure, it passes code. Why do you ask?
5) Accountability. This is a transparent attempt to trick myself into doing my work using reverse psychology and false deadlines and penalties…but I think I’m on to myself. I may have to resort to urban legends about the Muse Patrol…you know, that ghostly gang of scorned muses who stalk, mob, and tear apart writers who don’t write? Didn’t you know the gift of writing is located in a writer’s gizzard, tucked right underneath our big fat egos? And if you don’t use it, they come to take it back…. Yeah, I’m not buying that one either.
6) Read more short stories. I want to drink deeply from the well. I want to be on the other side of the relationship between writer and reader more often. I want someone else to do the driving. I want to be directed and misled, tricked and delighted. I want to fill myself with the words of others. I want to walk in other worlds, crash into strangers, fall in love with them, and escape with them via solar pods to planets made of mercury and ash. I cannot create in a vacuum. There is always give and take, and that, bruddah, is the circle of life.
So how am I doing so far? Well, I spent most of January blogging and hammering together my “platform,” to be quite honest. There hasn’t been much time left over for the fiction, something I need to correct posthaste. I need to catch up with my Write1Sub1 obligations. Even so, I feel like I’m in a nice, well-greased groove as being in work mode, which is priceless. I just need to get faster, dammit!
Which leads us to this month’s obsession: speed. (Italics makes the word look faster, don’t you think?) The most important item on the above list is — wait for it — No. 1, writing. No surprise there. There is no Writing Career of Significant Worth without the writing.
Here’s my problem — and it’s not a unique or uncommon problem — I don’t have a lot of time. I really don’t. I won’t bore you with my violin-accompanied sob story, but I’ve got a toddler and a husband stationed out of state. You get the picture. But I understand that Joe over in Sherman Hills spends two hours a day in his car. And I get that the PTA is depending on Violet down in Texas to organize this year’s bake sale gala.
We all have the same sob story. We all have children and spouses and jobs and commutes — important things! — that take up our time, and rightly so. It’s called life.
But what makes art great is not what we’re capable of creating under perfect conditions — there’s no such animal — but rather what we actually create under imperfect conditions. It is the challenges and obstacles that enrich our writing. The harder we have to fight to create, the more value it has.
So I accept that I have certain limitations on my time that cannot be negotiated, and I choose instead to make the most of the time I do have. And that means getting faster…because I am at this point in my life incessantly barraged with new story ideas, and I am afraid that I will become buried in their lifeless, unmanifested husks and haunted by the ghosts of their unfulfilled destinies if I don’t get a handle on it now. The situation is urgent.
So this month my focus is on making fiction and lots of it…and quickly. I don’t believe speed has to have a detrimental effect on first draft material. In a lot of ways, it serves the writer to have a part of the process in which they are free to spew out all the tropes and clichés, scratch that itch, lay on the purple thick and gooey. All the mistakes and groan-worthy metaphors will be excised later. Let all the cheese come out. Go on. The important thing is that we make something to work with in post-production, which we will worry about later.
So speed…how do we do this? I want to be very specific. I want to take the river of poetry that flows within me and turn it into Niagara Fucking Falls. Profane emphasis intended, deliberate, and calculated. Why am I getting all at-the-docks-after-sunset about it? Because sometimes you have to be if you want to be a contender. So crank open those gates, let it come rushing out. Cast out the monkeys in their barrels and give them the ride of their life!
And yes, writing like this means I most certainly will have to backtrack at times, but that’s okay. Ferreting out and marking dead ends in stories is just part of the process. Gotta be done. Somebody’s gotta clear the sewers.
So in the words of Ray Bradbury, “Work. Relaxation. Don’t think.” This month is going to be all about speed. Speed, speed, speed, my friends! We are going to drill. We will time ourselves. We are going to kindle life into as many story ideas as we can. This month we are going to see just how many words we can write to keep the Muse Patrol away. Hang on to your gizzards, ladies and germinators! (I don’t worry about mine as it is deeply ensconced and protected by my ginormous ego.)
So are you with me? Be with me! Be a come-with friend. I will share my word counts each day, and you can post your word counts in the comments. I will put together some sort of cumulative word count widget that I will install along the side here so that we can see just how big a pile of words we can make together.
And it doesn’t matter what kind of words they are, whether they’re song lyrics, blog posts, articles, novels…whatever it is that you’re writing, count those words. They all count! Just throw them in the comments, and I will pitch-fork them on top of the heap. This will be like NaNoWriMo, except without the NaNo. So really, this is just WriMo.
Anyway, at the end of the month, we can celebrate. Maybe we’ll stack all of our words together into an elaborate tower of language and set it afire and dance by its light…and from the ashes will arise loud, squawking phoenixes…which we will take home and feed and preen their feathers and send them to editors to sing to them and convince them to give us money. It is a good plan, yes?
But if this don’t float yer boat, don’t worry. I got fun stuff coming, educational stuff, cheesy stuff…plus, there’s still the little matter of 72 Nutter Butters.