Sunday, April 3, 2016

How do you spend your Sundays?

It struck me just now how quiet my weekends are. Is everyone's weekends so tame?

Like most writers, I have a day job. I try to write or edit for two hours on weekdays (don't always meet that goal, of course) and save the weekends for deep dives. You may have read that I recently sold a book but I'm not working on it at the moment, waiting for my partner to get back to me with a reworked outline. So at the moment, I'm working on another project, an epic fantasy with a twist that's been knocking around the back of my mind for the better part of a year.

My colleagues at work seem to have more exciting, or at least more interesting, weekends than me. They visit friends or go on local trips to state parks or petting farms with their children. There's always the weekend soccer games and errand runs. They seem to know what's going on around town, the best restaurants, the hot local bands.

For me, and a lot of writers I suspect, the weekends are for writing. I take time out only for the absolutely necessary: grocery shopping, laundry, walking the dog. Cooking up a big pot of something for weekday dinners, making sandwiches for lunches for me and the husband to eat during the week.

I'm not telling you about my sorry weekends for pity. Occasionally I'm asked for advice on the writing life; how do you make the jump to being a published writer? The answer is invariably that you have to put in the time writing. Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard as my friend Alan Orloff likes to say. It doesn't matter if you've sold twenty books or none. It takes an amazing amount of time to turn out writing that deserves to be read.

It also pays to be reminded occasionally what your fellow writers are going through. This article in the NY Times is less about poet Kevin Young's office than the fact that he has piles of unfinished work lining the walls, waiting for him to figure out how to make the piece work. Rarely does a piece emerge in the writer's head, fully formed, and honestly I wouldn't trust it if it did. The truth of a piece takes simmering; stories are like soups or stews, needing time to fully mature. I have unfinished novels that have sat around patiently for years waiting for me to figure out why it's not hanging together--just as The Taker did for a decade. Writing, it seems, is not for the impatient.

6 comments:

  1. I think I need to take a page from your book, but at this stage, that would mean I would miss out on a lot of our daughter's activities. Hmmm, not sure I want to do that, so the writing continues in snatches of time when I have them.

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    1. Family, that's the really hard part to make work. Perhaps when she gets a little older...

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  2. Hello Alma... I'm your new fan from Indonesia. I have to admit that what made me interested in your story was the summary on the back of the books. That's right: bookS, because the Bahasa Indonesia translations of The Taker trilogy are published in a sort-of-bundle (meaning all three books are published together) so I marathoned-read them.

    I'm a short story writer myself, but only flash fictions and only when there's an interesting competition. I used to dream that I can be a full-time writer but I guess I'm too satisfied with (or too drained by) my day job.
    So reading your profile makes me feel like living vicariously through you.

    Anyway, thanks for conjuring the very wonderful (and somewhat scary/eerie) characters.

    Looking forward to reading your next books.

    Astrid

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    1. Hi Astrid, Thank you so much for writing! I had no idea the books were published together in a bundle. Reading them one after another: you don't think about them being read like that when you're writing them, at least I didn't think of it. I hope it was a satisfying experience!
      I'm at the end of my day-job career and it's a struggle to keep from quitting, frankly. But writing is a precarious business. Unless you're James Patterson or JK Rowling, there's no guarantees you'll ever sell another book. Keep writing! I've never done flash fiction, but it sounds like a good way to satisfy the urge to get words on paper.
      thanks again,
      Alma

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    2. Hello again, Alma...

      There was a mistake in my previous post.

      Actually after I read the publication dates, the Bahasa Indonesia translations were published one month after another (March-The Taker, April-The Reckoning, and May-The Descent). It's just that the bookstore displayed them together in May here in my hometown (or maybe I didn't notice them until this month--sorry!).

      I hope you can still enjoy the last days of your day job, and enjoy your weekends too.

      Astrid

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