I’m on my second day as a full time writer. Yesterday was lost to wide ranging emotion and exhaustion from a long week so today is feeling a bit like my first day really waking up and realizing that I am now a full time writer. I’ve accomplished a significant dream — one that I’ve gone back and forth on over the course of my life. But here, as I approach 45 years old, it feels good to have reached this place.
This first full week is going to be unusual. My close friend Jay Lake is back for his third round of chemo and one of the things I’m doing to help out is fly east and help his girlfriend, Lisa, drive to Portland as she moves west to be close to him. We’ll spend about 12 hours per day on the road driving in shifts and I’ll spend some of my non-driving shifts working on a short story that I’m very late on. It should be a good trip but I’m sure it will be a long one, too.
Once I’m home, I’ll be cleaning out the Den of Ken to de-clutter it and get it ready for me to spend my days in it. I”ll be keeping the same schedule — up and biking by 3am, working by about 4:30am once the coffee is working and the miles are behind me. I’m not sure how long my workdays will be but whatever words I need will be frontloaded into the early hours of the day; the second half will be business stuff or secondary projects if I find I’m able to multi-task. I’m not sure how novels will go exactly; I’ll be looking to some of my pro-friends who are full time to get a sense from them whether it’s better to just write, write, write solely on the novel or stick to 2.5k per day and work other projects around it if my brain lets me. Then of course, there’s blogging, email, interviews, saying yes or no to invitations, filling out con surveys, research. So we’ll see how that goes.
As to projects, after the short story I have a novelette that I need to draft for a Yet To Be Announced Project. I also have a few short story collaborations I’d like to wrap up. Those will likely carry through the holidays. Businesswise, thanks to a volunteer fan, the new KenScholes.com will be up and ready soon. I’m trying to make some decisions about things like blogging. Some folks have been asking me to bring back Discombobulated Pensivity in the Doublewide of Life, my old LJ blog. I’ve typically not blogged much because I’ve been working a dayjob and have put most of my energy into just trying to get words and stay on top of more important things.
By Thanksgiving, I need to be re-reading the first four books in the Psalms of Isaak and starting to build my plan for Hymn. I’m going to work off of some kind of outline this time just to make sure I get everything into the last of the series. I’ve left a lot of pistols on mantles throughout the books and I need make sure they’re all fired before the end of the story.
I’ll spend part of December creating my production calendar and business goals for 2013. Then, in January I’ll start drafting Hymn with the aim of finishing in three months. Once it’s turned in, I think I”ll tackle my first YA novel (I’ve started reading some YA books to get some ideas and study up.) And somewhere in all of that, I have a Named Lands novelette and my Last Cowboy at the End of Time project. I’ll get that all sorted out as I plot my work for the calendar year. I also have a new epic fantasy series to pitch to Tor. This one may be open ended but written in three book arcs. I’m not sure yet. But I think it will be grittier.
So…here I am at the front end of another stretch. A new chapter. It’s been a really hard week but I feel good about where I’m standing right now. And I think the future is so bright I might need to go find some sunglasses to wear at night.
This has been a “rest-and-recharge” week for me in the writing arena. I went on vacation with my family last weekend, I read a lot of books, I caught up on some life stuff (clean out the garage! paint that table I’ve been wanting to get to for months! sort my clothes into “keep” and “give to charity” piles! Reorganize the kitchen now that my daughter is old enough to deal with all her own silverware, etc.), and I thought some about what I want my next project to be.
This is the first time in almost 7 years that I don’t have a deadline looming over my head, which is equally scary and fascinating. I get to choose my next project now — one that will shape my writing career for years to come. It’s a daunting task, but also one that should be a lot of fun. I mull over ideas as I’m doing housework, or going on trips. I soak up the creative energy at the book festivals and other writing events I’ve got scheduled in the next few weeks (The Virginia Festival of the Book is on tap for Sunday, and then I’ve got Capclave in two weeks, and you can read about those on my events schedule as well.) I’m “filling the well”, as they say, and trying not to freak out about not jumping in before it’s nice and deep.
I’m going to talk about a television show. Specifically, I’m going to complain about the writing on Hawaii Five-0. I should love this show. The actors are good (and pretty easy to look at). It takes place in Hawaii, which I love and where my in-laws live so I get to do the “I’ve been there!” game as I watch. The writers have been on other good shows. It’s supposed to be suspenseful and I write romantic suspense. But it doesn’t work for me at all.
Since I’m desperate to like this show but don’t, I’ve been trying to figure out why. I’ve come up with this: when there’s a BIG SUSPENSE MOVE instead of enjoying it I tend to roll my eyes because the writers overplay on action and underplay on reality. Now, I’m not saying I demand complete realism with my action. I absolutely don’t. The problem with Hawaii Five-0 is that the action often doesn’t make any sense. It goes too far. For example, in this week’s episode a helicopter picked up an armored car off the highway and dropped it into the ocean. The bad guy – completely uninjured from the fall into the water even though he was handcuffed in a truck and not wearing a seatbelt – is then rescued underwater. Instead of being awed I was trying to figure out why no one was hurt by a fall, why no one noticed a helicopter hoisting an armoroed car off the highway, why the Coast Guard wasn’t called in…and the “WHYs” went on and on.
Instead of loving the show, I’m struck with the fact that writing high intensity action is a delicate balance of big thrills and realism. I don’t need to understand every engineering principle to enjoy a scene, but I do have be given enough information and have enough of a reality basis to be willing suspend disbelief on some things. Without that I end up shaking my head just like I did in the last Die Hard movie when Bruce Willis basically fights with an airplane. It was the one step too far. And if you don’t believe me, check out this clip:
Sometimes you want something small, something you are worthy of. Maybe you even want it bad enough to go after it. You work harder, you look for angles and you push toward a goal that seems reasonable.
Sometimes you want something that appears to be totally out of your reach. Something so unfreaking awesome and yet so hilariously out of the realm of reasonableness that you just shrug and walk away.
And sometimes, when you reach for your dreams, you fall. You come away battered and bruised and you decide that life has taught you a very important lesson and that you should learn that you have limits and you need to keep your dreams to the realm of possibilities.
The truth is — and this should scare the living daylights out of everyone here — there is nothing out of your reach. NOTHING.
I’m a published author because I wanted it bad enough to make it happen. I had faith. I did the hard work and I believed in the dream. I refused to let little things like a decade of rejection get in the way. I ignored others who told me my writing wasn’t good enough. By all that is wholesome and pure, I ignored those idiots and kept my dream alive.
How dare anyone tell you that your dreams are not achievable. Never listen to someone who tells you that you should settle for what you can have. I don’t care if you want to be an astronaut, the President of the United States, or if you decide one day that the reason you are unhappy is because despite the biological evidence, you really are a woman (or a man).
I swear to you that you may have pain, you may walk through fire, but you have got to live for your dreams. When you stop dreaming you start dying.
I’m a writer, damn it and I will put my work out in front of people until all of them know the truth. I only have three novels on the market but that in itself exceeds some people’s dreams. Dare to dream bigger, shoot for the moon. You need to gather all the energy you can muster and push it into your dreams. I will break into the NY Times best seller list some day. I will become a full-time writer. I will stand in front of my fans and accept awards.
And I know all of this because my dreams are powerful. My dreams have teeth.
You are worthy of joy. You are worthy of big dreams.
Do something, right now. Stand up and declare to the world that you will not be kept back by those who are afraid. You will reach for the stars and you will, come hell or high water, you will achieve the unthinkable, the unfathomable.
Eschew the fear, abandon the doubt. Take a deep breath and let the possibilities fill you to overflowing.
I’ve been lurking alot on some author threads, and reading blogs and twitter, adn it seems like many people are at a crossroads, be it in career, life, or whatever, and they’re anticipating change. Personally, I like change, usually. LOL .
But at times like this, I look to others for inspiration…so I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes again. Yes, I have a lot of favorites. LOL
Better to do a little well, then a great deal badly. – Socrates
Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. – Lou Holtz
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot
All who wander are not lost. – JRR Tolkien
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. – E. B. White
It is not length of life, but depth of life. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life is never easy for those who dream. – Robert James Waller
Read a book for a potential blurb, and another in my role as a member of this year’s jury for the Andre Norton Award for YA science fiction and fantasy. (I have about ten more on my current stack of Norton reading, plus a list of others to track down. Yeah, I’m going to be doing a lot of reading for the remainder of the year.)
Asked for and received permission to blog about the cover for the next Kitty book, Kitty Rocks the House. (Woo!) Isn’t it pretty?
Blogged and Facebooked and tweeted, but not very much.
Friday I met with a local high school’s book club to talk about being a writer.
Email. The email never ends. On Twitter this week, editor John Joseph Adams observed, “Some days, you get email, and you’re like, “Ooh, new email!” Other days, every new message makes you want to scream “F*** YOU” at it.” (I edited that one word a bit…) Most weeks are like that for me. I’ve been known to put off answering e-mails for, well, way too long. My work e-mails fall into three basic categories: mail from readers, good news (reprint request, award nomination, etc.), and mail asking me for something. It’s this latter category that can get. . .frustrating. Sometimes the request is for something I’m happy to do (be a guest of honor at a convention, write a story for an anthology), sometimes it’s. . .not (send free books to someone I don’t know, some complicated request I don’t have time for, write a story for an anthology). E-mail is surprisingly time consuming, often because I simply spend too much time stewing over how to gracefully say, “No.” Or even, “Hell no.” Or I’ll often wait until I’m in a better mood entirely to answer email at all. Hence, the delay. . .
I wrote more than I expected to. Current work in progress hit 75,000 words, and I’m still setting up the climax. 75,000 is about the average length of a Kitty novel, so being at this length and still not finished is kind of new territory for me. I think this one might actually approach 100,000, which would make it my longest published work to date, once it gets out in the wild.
I’m posting live from the Chicago area where I’ve just undergone my third Stellate Ganglion Block for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My first experience with Dr. Lipov’s “Chicago Block” was in February 2011 and it changed…most likely even saved…my life. At the time I was having off the charts symptoms the likes of which I’d never seen. The first and second blocks took those symptoms down to nothing but slowly, over time, with the added traumas of Jen’s Dad’s death and my stepmom’s death, I saw some of those symptoms returning. They were nothing at all like the ones that first brought me here, but they were significant enough that once again, about ten minutes after the procedure, I felt a sense of calm flooding me as the anxiety drained out of my body and the muttering in my head became quiet. When I woke up this morning, it was starkly noticeable how quiet my inner landscape had become. I described it as if the circus that had been trying to set up there was suddenly gone. So yay science!
But that of course is not REALLY what I wanted to talk about today. No, I have bigger news than that.
About ten days ago, I gave notice at my dayjob and as of next Friday, I will be a full time writer.
Now, for the longest time I’d let go of this goal. I’d self-relegated myself to the ranks of short story writers with dayjobs with the notion that I would not ever likely make a living at this writing thing. The last time I seriously considered it was back in 1998 or so. But once the books started coming out both here and abroad, it suddenly came back onto the radar as a possibility. And you may remember that earlier this year, I talked about a plan for going full time within the next two years. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise…it happened sooner.
So what does this mean?
Well, first and foremost, it means bringing more balance back into my life. More time alone, in solitude, working at home in the Den of Ken without anyone around but Jake the Wonder Lab and my two shiftless cats, Annie Hall and Cujo. (Fortunately, Jake is the only energy draining extrovert in that mix.) Until now, I’ve been carrying a four-day-per-week dayjob that constituted two hours per day of driving (and about $60 per week in gas) on top of the work day…and a seven-day-per-week writing job that was sometimes running up to 40 hours of work. While raising three year old twins and taking care of the important relationships in my life. That’s a lot. Now, I’ll have more time to stretch out and get things done without all the high pressure and exhaustion.
It also means that I have enough breathing space to plan my work and work off of a production calendar that will give me my day-to-day, week-by-week, month-to-month writing assignments.
And I get to be the family cook Monday through Thursday, which I’m kinda excited about…and take on more around the house. Jen of course is over the moon about this. And I’ll have some dedicated Daddy-Daughters Time in the late afternoons and evenings now that I don’t have to come home, gobble dinner and go hide out with my words and my sense of never having enough time.
So all in all, this is a win-win-win for me and my family.
I’ll be blogging a bit more about this transition as it happens and as I learn exactly what it means.
Meanwhile, I’m struck by the notion once again that when we come to this writing thing, we often see the next turn of the corner as some kind of finish line, a place of arrival and accomplishment. But in all truth, they are just what they are — a turn in the corner, with a whole new stretch of highway to rush madly down in our marathon.
What’s the thing ahead of you that you see as a finish line? And what, do you imagine, might lay beyond it for you?