I’ve let the first draft of Whored Out sit for a little over a week now. I don’t know if that’s actually enough time to let it clear out of my system so I can try giving it an objective first read. I should probably let it sit for a month before trying to read it with fresh eyes, but I’m chomping at the bit to get back to it. It’s a long way from being ready for anyone else to look at, but it’s close enough to ending up in the catalog that I want to push through it and get this thing out and available. That being said, I don’t want to rush through the editorial process and spend the next six months finding common problems or reading over things I wish I would have changed before releasing it out into the wild.
In the erotica niche, it’s a balancing act. Most of the successful short erotic story writers seem to be more concerned with the size of their back catalog than in working out all the kinks in their story. Every month more and more “OK” erotica shows up on the shelves, making it harder and harder to get noticed by the average reader who’s out there just looking for a quick story to get his or her rocks off. With the competition of free ebooks and websites where so many really talented writers offer their work for free, sometimes I just sit back and wonder what I’m doing here and if there’s a future in this at all. Then I remember that even if I end up doing this for free, I’d still be doing it. I’ve more or less come to terms with the era of 100-unit a month sales being over for me (at least for the moment).
I might not be the most talented, best edited, or dirtiest writer out here on the internet, but I still feel like there is a lot I want to say. I know there are plenty of ideas I still want to explore. My thoughts are definitely not getting any more pure over time. If anything they go to a darker place more and more often. Judging by how many stories are out there that look at the darker side of sex, I’m apparently not the only one.
So, reading back over this post, you can see my mind this Monday morning is all over the place – editing, sales, the future, what it means to be a writer, new story ideas. There’s never a quiet moment in there (and that’s OK). I think at some point in the near future, it will be time to fall back, regroup, and reevaluate the my plan for how this whole writing thing works and how I’m approaching it. Seeing where you’ve been and figuring out where you’re going can’t be a bad thing, right?
I know that what I should be doing is bashing away at whatever work of fiction is next on my list of things to do. I should be outlining. I should be making notes. I should be sitting at the keyboard every night toiling away. I should be doing all of those things because the only way to make sure the routine of writing stays a routine is to sit down and do it.
Instead of keeping to the routine until it’s time to sit down and start editing, I’m doing everything I can think of to break the routine. That’s not a great habit to be in. It’s certainly not productive. And I know in the long run it’s not doing me any good or getting me any closer to my goals as a writer. Knowing all that I’m still sitting here tonight and blowing off the routine.
The guilt will get to me sooner or later. If past performance is any indicator it will be a lot closer to sooner. I’ve done this long enough now that my cycles are remarkably well established. Maybe someday I’ll crack the code to keep focused when a project hits one of those spots that feel like it’s a place to take a breather. Probably not, but a boy can dream.
After a spurt of productivity this weekend, I’m ready to declare that Whored Out has officially reached first draft status. Some parts of it need serious work. I knew that even while I was writing them, but the overall story arc, major events, and tone of the story are all set. What’s left, of course, is to go back and scrub mercilessly and make them all pretty.
What I seem to have done this time around is create a story that has sex in it rather than a description of a lot of sex that has a story kind of wrapped around it. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s an important one. At least it feels important to the guy who spent the last few months working on it. Don’t get me wrong, at it’s heart Whored Out is definitely still a story about fucking, but it’s also something more than that. How much more it is than that remains for the reader to determine.
In most of my past short stories, each chapter focused on a discrete “scene”. For Whored Out the chapters tend to bleed together a little more, with the sex “taking longer” and sometimes crossing through multiple chapters. It’s hard to describe, but somehow it just feels different than the others. I’m still on the fence about whether that means it’s better or worse.
So, there’s my musing for Monday morning. There’s still a long path to walk before this effort will be ready for public consumption, but it’s a lot closer this morning than it was on Friday night. For a guy doing all this in his spare time, it would be hard to ask for more than that.
I really got on a tear last night, doubling my usual number of nightly words to a little over 600. That’s a big, big day for me – especially on a day in the middle of the week. Most weeknights I’m luck to hit 300 words. Having the occasional night like that reminds me why I do this. It feels like that one in a million moment where everything goes just right.
It helps to have the occasional day like that because for me it’s the exception rather than the rule. Normally, every day is a struggle. Struggling isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As they say, if it were easy, everyone would do it… and trust me, there are enough people out there self publishing that we really shouldn’t be in a rush to make it any easier. I’d never discourage an aspiring writer, but damned if the competition isn’t fierce enough already. Every day it feels like it’s getting just a little bit harder to earn a sale. Even though sales are far from the only measure of success, that little “somebody likes me” moment is an awfully good bit of positive reinforcement.
Tonight I’ve written a couple of blog posts, done a bit of freelance work, and need to sit down and deal with some of the other ephemera of life like paying bills and responding to the mountain of email I let build up. Hopefully before the lights go out I’ll carve out the time for another 300 words. It would be a real shame to let the head of steam I built up yesterday fizzle because other stuff kept getting in the way.
Just as I predicted, there wasn’t a chance of wrapping up a first draft this weekend. I’m not complaining. It was a good weekend, it’s just that the goodness didn’t extend into the realm of doing much writing. Sorry to say if you were expecting a big push to the end of the first draft you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I’m still making progress to the tune of 200-300 words a night. It’s anything but fast but it does feel steady. As the whole writing thing feels like it’s taking on a mostly permanent place on my to-do list, stead progress is most likely going to be the name of the game, since sitting in the soft glow of the laptop screen is never going to be the only think I’m interested in doing.
The only editorial comment I really want to make is actually about this blog – and that’s that I’m starting to feel like I’m repeating myself a lot. That’s surely not the best thing to do from a marketing perspective, although it is a pretty unvarnished look at how the process works for me. I’ve been trying to think up new and interesting ways to keep things fresh here. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve dreamed up anything that’s particularly interesting or original. Maybe that’s a question I need to throw out to the universe – How exactly do you go about keeping a blog fresh when what you find yourself doing on a daily basis is just grinding through the work?
Whored Out drug itself limping past 11,000 words last night. It’s been slow going and I’m definitely hitting the point in the process where I’m not really satisfied with anything that’s hitting the page. I’ve been doing this long enough now to know that it’s something that hits me with every project. The closer it gets to the end the more tempted I’ll be to set it aside in favor of something that feels like it’s making more progress. There’s surely some deep psychological reason for that. There are also deep psychological reasons people are afraid plants. Neither feels very practical when it comes time to just get through the day.
I could go ahead and tell you that I’m going to sit down this weekend and hammer out the ending. That would be the easy way out tonight. It would put me on the hook an make me feel guilty if I didn’t hit the mark by the bedtime Sunday night. It also virtually guarantees that there isn’t a chance in hell I’ll be done this weekend. Then on Monday I’ll have to issue a public retraction, explain what happened, and generally make myself feel worse about the whole thing. As you might have guessed, I’m not going to make any projections tonight. If it gets there, great, if not, there’s always next week.
Honestly, my real struggle these days is just sitting down and making myself do the work. That’s not easy to admit. I realize, though, you don’t get to think of yourself as a professional if you’re not making a commitment to doing the work. The easiest thing in the world would be to sit back and just write whenever the mood strikes me. That would be maybe one or two nights a week. The harder thing, the better thing, the one that requires way more discipline is sitting down every night making it happen especially when motivation gets low, eyes get tired, and there doesn’t feel like there’s much to give.
Have a mentioned that I really, really hate this time in the life of a work in progress?
I’m back to writing with both hands again. That doesn’t sounds like much of a big deal unless you suddenly find yourself unable to do it for any length of time. My advice to everyone out there is not to take your hands for granted. I’m serious. Really stop and marvel sometime at all the things you’re able to do with them over the course of the day. I’d say that’s double important for your non-dominant hand. For me it least not getting much use out of it was really informative to just how much I reach and grab and fold and lift with my left hand every day. Sure, I could get by without it, but it would be far more traumatic than I could have possibly imagined.
Now that my hand is healed and writing is – at least for the time being – once again part of my daily routine, I’m looking forward to keeping the progress I’ve made in the last couple of weeks. I’m not where I wanted to be by now. I’m coming to terms with that being OK. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but I’ve found that being down on myself because I missed a word count, or layed out a day just isn’t productive. If anything it’s made it harder for me to want to sit down and do this job that I love.
You see, I’m deathly afraid of that advice that many novice writers get – to treat their craft like a job. I’ve hated every “job” I’ve ever had. I love writing. Treating it like “work” just sounds like the fast track to making it just another thing I hate doing five times a week. I don’t want that. In fact, I’d rather give it up and remember it as something I loved doing than letting it turn into another job. I’ve had plenty of those in my life, but great passions have been a hell of a lot harder to come by. I feel like I need to protect the ones I have, because God only knows when another might come along.