The two pages this morning were solid work, a quiet moment before I give the character a happy ending of sorts, a redemption that feeds back into something that I’ve got to make explicit for the protagonist. I don’t outline because it feels like a distraction, a way to avoid doing the work.
It is work, writing. Whether you treat it as a hobby or a job ( I started on the former but moved to the latter in my approach), the time invested in it would, in other fields, earn you large salaries and opportunities to advance. A big corner office, perhaps, a title and a degree of respect.
I am a firm believer in Yog’s Law:
Money flows towards the writer.
You invest time and energy in getting to a standard that makes you publishable, readable, legible. That time is unpaid, for the most part and it shuts down routes to other things. A journeyman writer makes sacrifices for their craft, and as I said, if you were to devote that time to other things, you would make more money than you or I have off the writing.
I don’t enter contests where you pay a fee.
If I were to pay for a service, I would know what it would cost and what my money would entitle me to.
You have to watch for scams in the writing game. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I usually look at the bio of someone, google them or defer to Victoria Strauss’ glorious service/blog Writer Beware.
I don’t think that you can trust books of writing advice written by people whose sole body of work is writing advice. It’s armchair quarterbacking and it seldom does anything but make you feel inadequate. It’s a way to feel like you are writing, rather than actually writing. I don’t wish them any ill will, but it’s not my preference. I look at those who have actually written and come back to talk about it.
Stephen King, Annie Lamott, Chuck Palahniuk, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury. They have books that you can read and they show you how their processes worked. You can donate to Brain Pickings and go through the lovingly curated archive for sublime writing advice and inspiration.
Money flows towards the writer. In self publishing, rights and money are controlled by the writer/publisher.
It’s also why I don’t enter contests where you pay a fee to submit your story. I have invested time and effort, and I could use that money to treat myself to a good cup of coffee, a set of pencils and a book instead.
If I choose to work without renumeration, then it’s a calculated and limited risk, I have submitted a piece of work for a charitable anthology but that is a choice I made freely and without pressure or desperation. Make art like an artist, but think like a business. You are, if you want to get paid for what you do.
I look at websites that offer up hosting services for stories. I look at the biographies and staffing lists, their good clothes and shining hair. The ergonomic furniture and the woodlands views that must cost a bit of money to have. I wonder what the salaries are, who invested in it and why, and if they’re offering ‘exposure’, I remind myself that another definition of exposure.
The kind that people die from. If someone is getting paid for your work, and it’s not you, then walk away. The idea that writing is a twee hobby is a useful lie that keeps a lot of people in good jobs and the writers in penury. It allows the likes of The Huffington Post to be built upon the backs, ambitions and egos of writers and celebrities who can afford to blog for free. Let the baker bake their bread, and then pay them for it.
What Would Stringer Bell Do? Make sure that your enthusiasm doesn’t put you out of pocket, and if you do, then weigh up the benefits, both short and long term. Be kind and solicitous in person but protect yourself.
Thank you for reading. Please post comments and thoughts, questions, missives below.