Writer’s Life: Dollars and Cents.

So earlier today this article by Merritt Tierce about the financial realities of the writing life came across my feed. http://www.marieclaire.com/career-advice/features/a22573/merritt-tierce-love-me-back-writing-and-money/

What she says about the hustle and the reality of what most writers make is true. It got me thinking, again, about some other myths about the writing life. I, too, have a day job. I have to. There’s this whole bill-paying thing that has to happen.

One thing that someone said to me a few years ago got me angry enough that I still remember it. “I wish I could afford to work part time and stay home and write novels.” I may have blogged about the particular incident before this. What that person failed to understand is that in order to make writing a priority the day job HAD to be part time. Working part time was not a situation I chose for shits and giggles. It was a sacrifice. Another thing that person failed to understand is that writing itself is work. The effort that goes into it is Herculean at times. I can tell you that in a given week I put twice as many hours into writing than I do at my day job. Even when my word count is low.

With writing, measurable output like word count is not the only thing that goes into it. Reading the work of others, research, maintaining a social media presence, staying informed about the field, talking to other writers about the concerns of the industry, if you are self-published there is marketing, formatting, book design, editing, developing ideas, critique groups, classes to make you better … I am sure that I have not covered everything. The myriad number of skills required to do the work of being a writer is… well. Let’s just say it isn’t simply a matter of sitting in a room daydreaming all day long until an uber-magical story pops out. It is difficult and time consuming and there is not usually a huge paycheck right after you have reached the end of a project. Writers do not sit on mountains of gold. Unless they do. If you are a writer who sits on a mountain of gold please invite me to your fairy realm and let me borrow one of those gold coins. I’ll dedicate the next book to you.

But let’s talk about why story-telling SEEMS effortless. It is because of mountains of work. Sentences do not necessarily land perfectly on the page. They must be polished. The vision in your head, no matter how complete, does not automatically translate to a perfect first draft. It takes many drafts and multiple edits to effectively communicate even the ghost of the story inside the brain to an audience. Some people can get it pretty close in a first draft, most can’t and even those first drafts that are near perfect require editing, proofing…. etc. If we do our work correctly the story that reaches you should be effortless to read. It is the opposite of effortless to produce. This is true of all art forms. When the curtain rises on a stage you don’t see the scaffolding that holds up the set. Think of fiction in this way, also. I think part of why the myth that writing is easy or that anyone can do it is that the work itself is not interesting or even useful to watch. In athletics you can see  and measure the training. Not true with writing. It largely happens in the head. No one WANTS to sit in a room with a writer and watch them work all day. The most interesting thing that can happen, externally, is a muttered conversation with the writerly self when we come across a narrative problem or some wacked out sentence we wrote when we were still half asleep.

I don’t mean to mythologize or romanticize the notion of the starving artist here, either. Like Merrit Tierce mentions in the article it is extremely hard to focus when your basic needs are threatened/not being met. What I mean to say is that while a good story can seem like magic, it is not. It is work. Real work.

To further elucidate upon the subject of how writing is work and why more people DON’T do it, here is this excellent video of Ta-Nehisi Coates from The Atlantic.

Laundry Day!

Hey, look at that SUPER EXCITING BLOG POST TITLE!

Shut up. I know.

But it is laundry day and I have some time. First I would like to take a moment to celebrate the fact that this laundry day, at the laundromat, all of the machines into which I flung quarters functioned. HOORAH!

It has been a while since I have done laundry in a public space like this and while I was in college, I was not particularly bothered by the event, it has been years since I’ve lived in an apartment and there are things that you forget. Such things include the Russian roulette of throwing quarters into washers and dryers that are in use pretty much constantly and therefore prone to breaking down. Like, a lot.

(As I was complaining about this a friend sent me a link to this cool device…a foot powered washing machine.)

So, um, yes. I have recently moved.

Lots and lots of change is happening over here in Reggie Land. It is difficult, but positive. I’m hoping to have things to blog about that are more relevant to the writing life in this space. Or to be able to talk about the other things going on that are infinitely more interesting than laundry. Right now, however, I have got some folding to do…

 

Hey Look! A Blog Post! And a Song! And Me on a Stage in Chicago! WUT?

Hello interwebs, are you out there? I am still here. DESPITE THE ODDS, I’M STILL STANDING! *somebody queue the Elton John*

Right now I am listening to Peggy Sue and considering all of the things that have happened so far in 2016. A lot has been going on in Reggie-land. There has been a unbelievable mix of amazing and terrible things here this year. There has been a lot to process, I’m still not sure it has all registered which is a long way of saying that if I have been silent in this space for too long, there are Reasons. Yes, that capital r is intentional. For purposes of this post, I shall set aside the terrible for the moment and focus on the amazing.

It might be a bit late, but can we talk about the Nebula Awards from May of 2016? BECAUSE I WAS THERE AND IT WAS AWESOME. There have been more timely write-ups of the event than the one you will find here. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible it was to be there. The SFF community is a vibrant, welcoming place and I was lucky to be able to attend. The conversations alone were well worth the trip to Chicago. It was a once in a lifetime experience. This is literally true as it was the SFWA’s 50th anniversary.

In honor of that, Henry Lien, aka Emperor Stardust, composed and performed an anthem. I am honored to be able to say I helped, a little. And yes, it does mean that for a few glowing seconds of my life, I shared a stage with some of SFF’s luminaries, and John Hodgman. Yes. THAT John Hodgman.

There is videographic evidence of this help which can be viewed here.

And, for purposes of more visual fun, here is a gratuitous still shot:

Nebulas2016dance

 

 

I am perhaps most proud of the fact that I managed NOT to pee my pants.

I think that’s a good note with which to end this post. A pee-free pair of pants is always a good thing. Right?

 

Misadventures in Blog Neglect

Well, hello there blogosphere.

It has been a while.

A lot longer than I thought.

So, I have been out in the world, doing things, being social, writing novels and working all of the jobs. And it is the season of Cookiegeddon, during which I bake a whole mountain range of cookies from scratch. It is both glorious and frightening.

The frightening part is when I just sort of make up recipes. The glorious part is when they work.

Hello, Cherry Chocolate Chip deliciousness…

Behold! COOKIES
Behold! COOKIES

Cookiegeddon is not over. I have more work to do. The mountain range of cookies remains incomplete until there is shortbread, snicker doodles, and something I haven’t tried to do yet. (I haven’t decided. I am procrastinating.)

Speaking of things that need to bake, I also have a handful of novels that require more ingredients before they are ready to be put in the oven. Which means I’ve got more work to do.

I’ll be back here when I have more news-type news to report.

 

 

 

…So here’s something kick-ass that happened…

13 Morbid Tales by Devon Miller HAS BEEN RELEASED INTO THE WILD!

The officially official release date is meant to be October 1, but for all intents and purposes it is available.

You might be asking why I’m bouncing around like a kid with a serious sugar buzz. Mostly I am just really excited for my friend. And, uh, I edited it. Which is also cool.

She also put my name on the cover which is a huge honor. I am proud to be tangentially a part of this collection, and excited to say, CONGRATULATIONS, DEVON!

WOOO!

13MorbidCover