So, with all the writing I have been doing lately, I am afraid to look at my wordcounts. They are arbitrary anyway and really only serve the purpose to myself that yes, I am writing. No, I’m not screwing around. I try not to be one of these people who go around telling people that they are writers, but only do so to serve the purpose of getting into a party with a bunch of cool kids.
Writers aren’t cool. They might look cool on the outside, but inside they aren’t. They think too much about things, and that isn’t cool. Cool people are dismissive, they know everything already. They don’t need to waste their time putting their thoughts to paper because hey, like, whatever man.
The other day I hit a snag. I was buying Legos with my kid and the girl at the cash register recognized me from the other times I had been there. She reminds me a little of myself at her age. She writes stories and even had a Lego character clipped to her name tag that was from one of her books. She writes Fantasy and told me that a bunch of other writers were in that day building characters for their books. When I told her (reminded, since she’s heard the same thing from me for the last year whenver I go in) that I write too, she asked what I wrote.
I told her I used to write steampunk and fantasy, but recently I was working on a literary piece based on life experiences, she glazed over. I remember that feeling too. I remember when I wrote fantasy that I often felt that my work wasn’t taken seriously. But on the other side of that now, I felt like I had tresspassed. Sorry, but I did my time in the genres. I will probably go back to it eventually. But here, I felt like an interloper. Not that it matters.
I remember being in that place years ago. Most people who consider themselves writers, especially if it is fan fiction or dreams of becoming the next Tolkien or GRRM or Robert Jordan don’t read anything any of their friends writes either. It’s a lot of conversations where you are just listening well enough to know when it’s your turn to talk. But oddly enough, I felt like I no longer had that authenticity because I’m not writing fantasy right now. Listen, I just do what the story tells me to do. Sometimes I don’t have a choice.
I expect to die young because the story will no longer have any need for me and it will finally let me expire. Thanks, story. I’m glad I didn’t sleep right and wrecked my health for years for you.
Anyway, I bring up the word counts because I am writing my guts out lately–even though it isn’t genre fiction–and I had a few questions that keep popping up in my head.
- How much do I actually need to tell?
- How much sex needs to go into the story before it is less War and Peace and more 50 Shades? I want to stop before it gets to Tropic of Cancer.
- If I write about topics that aren’t considered popular opinions in the mainstream, will that ruin my chances of being published?
- All these words and paragraphs and chapters…how many will I wind up shaving it down to anyway? Is that why it takes two weeks to read a book that took five years to write?
- If I write it well enough to get my car egged if I drive through my home town after it is published, is that a good sign or a bad one? Asking for a friend.
- If I sell in mainstream/literary fiction, will I be cast out of the Garden of Genre forever?
- If I piss people off with this and become friendless, is it okay if I cry myself to sleep on a pillow stuffed with one hundred dollar bills?
I promise not to think I’m cool if this book is published. I know I’m not cool. I’ve had 45 years of the world’s abuse to remind me of such things.
5 thoughts on “Odd Questions About Writing”
I was sorely tempted to take a shot at these, but the best answer is probably that you should do whatever feels right…
And as for 7, if you piss everyone off while selling millions of copies, I’m pretty sure you’ll suddenly discover you have more friends than you ever imagined you could.
Very true. Although now I really want to know your answers! hahaha!
1. As much as the story needs.
2. That’s a stylistic choice IMO
3. Probably given how polarised the USA is these days.
4. Isn’t that what betareaders are for. And later, editors?
5. Well, it provoked a REACTION!
6. I don’t think that’s a thing so much anymore, provided you’re not being a dick about it.
7. You want the opportunity to try it don’t you?
All very good points.
The betareader thing is hard. I usually can’t get anyone to acutally commit to reading enough to get an opinion.
I used to do some, but you’re right, it can be a big commitment. And getting the right person to read is tricky. (I can provide feedback as a reader in general, and as a reader of SFF specifically. I’m decent at spotting typos & inconsistencies. I can usually tell when a story isn’t quite right, but not as good suggesting fixes.)