textualdeviance: (Eowyn pen)
[personal profile] textualdeviance
Still high on my success of last November, I decided to do the summer version of NaNoWriMo, and I conquered it! Got the first 50k done in 24 days, and now seeing how much closer I can get to finishing the story by the end of the month.

Assuming I do finish it--and I'm sure I will--this will be my third completed novel in the last two years (fourth, if you count the 120k-word fanfic novel) and to be honest: I'm gobsmacked that I've done this.

I'm sure many reading this won't be surprised. I'm ridiculously verbose, after all (an LJ post of less than 500 words is incredibly short), so banging out ~300,000 words of fiction theoretically doesn't seem like much. However, most of that verbosity is in blog posts, commentary and other short-form nonfiction. Even my fanfic, until I started writing the series that eventually became a novel, was rarely more than 3,000 words each. I've been writing since I was a kid, and I've always had something to say, both in commentary and fiction, but I've never before had the stamina and focus to tell a long-form story. My ADD and tendency to get bored easily would always kick in, and I'd move on to something else before I'd got more than a couple of chapters in. There are probably as many words of unfinished stories sitting in various notebooks and hard drives as there are of the ones I've finished the last couple of years.

So what changed? How am I able to do this now when I wasn't before?

Some of it is getting the ADD treated, and getting older and more patient. Also, having more free time in which to sit and write in long stretches, v. having to go to classes, work, etc., helps. I also think that the sprint-pace format of NaNoWriMo works well with my burst-rest-burst workflow style, and having a goal/deadline to reach like that keeps me going.

The biggest change, however, is this: I now consider myself a writer, when I didn't before.

Most of my life, people have told me I was good at it (for my age/education), and of course I love doing it, but I never really took it seriously before. Getting a journalism degree helped me get a lot of the technical skills I'd been lacking, but even after that, I just couldn't think of myself as a proper writer. It seemed incredibly arrogant to think of myself that way when no-one had ever paid me to write (fiction, at least), because getting paid is how we Americans define someone's career. And, as far as writing is concerned, getting paid depends in large part on impressing a certain elite group of publishing people in Manhattan. That was something I was positive I'd never be able to do. To be honest, I'm still not sure I can do that (though I have a better chance of it with the SFF I'm doing than I would if I were attempting literary fiction.)

What's different now, however? I don't care if I impress those people. I still want to get paid for what I do, and impressing those folks will be necessary for that (bar self-publishing, which I don't want to mess with, yet), but I can't allow whether someone wants to pay me for my work to determine who I am and what I do, when doing it makes me feel so right in my own skin.

I already lost one career--singing--to knowing that I didn't have the right pedigree to impress the people holding the purse strings. Knowing that I will never get paid to sing professionally absolutely breaks my heart. Knowing that opportunities for singing publicly even for free are limited makes it worse. Part of my soul died when I watched my singing career--something to which I'd dedicated most of my 20s--dry up and amount to nothing. I don't ever want to feel like that again.

So, when I started writing more, and realized that it gave me much of the same kind of feeling that singing did, I made a point of not letting the opinions of upper-class snobs stop me from doing what I want to do.

Of course, I do want to get paid for doing this, because it is work, and I do think my work deserves compensation. I think people who are entertained by the labor of artists are morally bound to pay those artists for such entertainment (and yes, pirates, that means you.) And, of course, getting my work out to the people who might like it is going to involve a middleman of some sort or other. I still lean toward professional publishing because of its editing, marketing and distribution advantages (not to mention the fact that self-publishing is riddled with truly shittastic work) but that really doesn't have any bearing on whether I do the work in the first place.

Unlike singing, which more or less requires the involvement of others--fellow singers, instrumentalists, a place to perform--writing is something I can do entirely on my own. I don't need permission or approval from anyone else in order to actually write the stories. I do in order to get paid for writing them, yes, but doing the writing itself is something entirely self-driven, and something no-one can take away from me, no matter how much they might think I'm an ugly trailer trash slob.

Getting to this point was amazingly freeing. I no longer have that chorus of mean girls in my head when I'm working, telling me that what I do is never going to be good enough for them. Because it doesn't matter whether it's good enough for them. It just has to be good enough for me. And it is, so I'm doing it.
Date: 2012-08-27 02:00 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] pottsfanatic.livejournal.com
You are most definitely a writer. I'm on the edge of my seat wondering what's happened to Sasha. Really enjoying the story. I mean A LOT. :)
Please send the rest along as soon as you can.

in other random news
Have you seen any info on Every Day by David Levithan?

Looks like it might be pretty good.


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