Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh yes. I remember this.

When I went from freelance to full-time at my Hearst job, I thought I'd be able to keep writing young-adult novels, no problem. I was used to doing a chapter a day and thought, with the amount of actual time I spent writing, that piling that on top of a full day's magazine writing and editing would be easy. There's a lot of what seems like wasted time in a writer's day -- and it seems wasted even to the writer wasting it.

What I learned then was that all that "wasted" time helped to gather stores of energy and focus for the actual writing, fingers on keyboard, eyes on monitor. You cannot do that half-assed. You cannot sandwich it between scheduled research and scheduled interviews. It takes its own time, and you have to allow the full amount of that time.

This is not to say that you have to wait for the Muse to strike, or that repeats of "Bonanza" are integral to the creative process. There is a sweet spot, a perfect amount of cushion before and after the actual writing; learning exactly what you need (as opposed to what you want, because in addition to being a hardworking writer, you are a big lazy bum) is about the most precious and helpful information you can put in your hopper. 

All this is to say that I got a disheartening response from an editor this morning, saying that a rough draft was way off the mark. I've gotten these before, and written these before, and still ended up with a triumphant final draft, but it is always a blow to the ego. It reminded me of my editor-friend Roz's response to me ten years ago: "This isn't the Amy-writing we're used to!" 

Back then, I could give up the freelance and commit fully into my equally satisfying day job. Now, I need to do both till I can transition to freelance full-time; I don't have the luxury of agreeing that this isn't the right project for me. I have to do better, which means working smarter, avoiding websites that suck the life out of my day, and allowing for the kind of rest that makes me work better, not worse. 

Good to know! Of course, I knew it already, but... Good to re-know! 

1 comment:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Yes, I often feel like a big lazy bum. Probably because I am one.