March 16, 2010 | By: Tracy

Life of Leisure? Ha!

I have to admit, when I was younger (those wonderfully naive late-teens, early-twenties) and dreamed of being a famous writer some day, one of the perks was thinking of all the free time I'd have. Okay, so fast forward a decade or so, and the orange colored glasses are gone. ( I'm an Orioles fan. We've had 12 straight losing seasons and I still love my team, so the glasses went from "rose" to "orange" a long time ago). As it turned out, writing was a lot more time consuming than I originally thought.
For starters, it took me until last summer to learn I had to buckle down and write every day. Who knew dreaming of writing a novel would not actually get it written for you?! Then there is this whole pesky ordeal of finding an agent, which is not unlike trying to find a game token dropped in the ball crawl at Chuck E Cheese (no, I don't have kids. I just worked there in my youth, and trust me when I say there were far worse things found in the ball crawl from time to time. Blech!)
Over the past year, I've learned just how much time writing actually takes ... and it's something I don't think non-writers can really comprehend. I've learned, a novel is never truly finished. The one I'm in the process of shopping to agents now is highly polished, yet every time I go back through it there is something minor I can tweak or tighten. I'm convinced this will continue, until I finally sell the story or get so sick of it I put it away to never be seen again ... at least for a really, really, really long time. None of this takes into consideration the writing of the query letter (which is harder than writing a freaking novel, if you ask me), writing a synopsis, composing query submissions to be mailed/emailed since every agent likes theirs a little different than the last, reading over all the agents and fellow writers blogs (which I admittedly spend too much time doing) ... and last but not least, writing a new story.
How is everything else supposed to fit? Especially for those who need to work full time as well? I'm currently still looking for work after being laid off, which is like a job unto itself sometimes...but I know I'll be back to the 9-5 in the near future, so I am keeping that consideration in mind. I'm not complaining, because I've finally found myself doing something I really enjoy, but it is far from stress free.
How do you all manage your time so you still get stuff accomplished in your writing, but not to the exclusion of everything else? And are there any pre-conceived notions you had about being a writer that you can now say "How in the hell did I ever believe that?"

4 witty remarks:

lexcade said...

i thought it'd be a lot easier than it is. i never knew about agents and queries and synopses when i was a kid. i thought i would finish a novel and send it out into the universe and it would magically be published.

but no. i'm slaving more over the "submission packet" than over the actual novel, which is forever in revisions.

the only way i can get anything accomplished is to set time aside daily for writing. it doesn't always happen, but i try. luckily i work at a hotel where i usually have a lot of downtime, so if i can tear myself away from blogs, i can get some stuff accomplished.

usually, though, you just gotta make time. even if you don't feel like writing, it helps to at least churn out some words that you can work on when you feel more inspired. :)

Matthew Rush said...

Hi Tracy. Just found your blog after seeing your post on Nathan Bransford's forums. I completely agree. Being a novelist is wonderful to dream about but I for one certainly did not realize how difficult it really was until actually taking a crack at it.

It took me 6 months to write my first draft - but that was the easy part. Revising is tough but nothing compared to querying agents. I have a full time job and recently got promoted to more responsibilities for the same pay (is that even a promotion?). Now I have almost no time left for writing.

So I decided to start blogging. It's much more fun and less time consuming. I promise not to give up on my novel though, just be more realistic about how much dedication it will take.

If you'd like to have a chuckle at my expense about the agonizing query process please visit my blog at:

http://theqqqe.blogspot.com/2010/03/welcome-post.html

GhostFolk.com said...

Neat post! I saw your comment at Nathan's blog about fear of authors in revealing too much of their unique and wonderful plots and it was spot-on accurate. It's hard to give away the good stuff. ;-)

I just want to say, too, don't worry about the g.d. query. Write a really good book, think of an incredible (and accurate) tagline for your story and the query will write itself. When you've done a terrific and marketable book, agents (okay, one out of five or ten of them) will see the book behind the query, despite a few query faults.

The good agents are very very good at this.

The last thing you want to do is to study query composition and then write an exceptionallly fine query for an otherwise unexceptional book that's simply not going to be published no matter how many partials and fulls are requested by agents and their first readers. Seriassly.

./Randy

Tracy said...

lexcade - I don't know about you, but for me the most frustrating thing about all the extra work I never realized went into the agent hunt, has cut into the time to work on my next idea. I've started it, but I keep getting sucked back into query, synopsis, revision land on this story.

Matthew - Hi! I think I actually gave you my ideas on your query on Nathan's message board yesterday. Um, I think you definitely got the shaft on that whole "promotion" thing. I'll def check out your blog. It's never fun to see other authors struggle through the process, but it is nice sometimes to realize we're not alone.

Randy - Thanks! Are you on hire for motivational speaking? Can I hire you? See, I came into this thing swearing I wasn't going to let things like the query letter and synopsis freak me out ... my battle is with myself on this one. I thought I was getting better, but I'm still having a tough time figuring out which plot twists can be revealed without giving away the major twist at the end. I think that's what I get for being a fan of Lost.

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