I prefer to be working at one story or looking for another around here. As life seems to go best if I write something each day.
Even if, most times, no one aside from me will ever see it.
Because I regard the act of writing much like any other trained response to an intellectual demand. And did I mention embracing physical training as a boy? While no longer a livelihood, daily exercise remains a habit much-enjoyed by the old man sitting here today.
Thus, and knowing neither practise nor anything else leads to perfection, I understand repetition can deliver improvements in fitness, skill and technique.
And like athletes or performers, a writer must be well-trained and impeccably rehearsed to deliver a literary performance. So, to keep fit, grinding out some style or type of writing is a daily routine in these parts. Though often, only a sentence results from a morning’s effort.
After forty years working mostly in creative short forms, including poetry and songwriting, my preference for long form fiction is clear enough.
I also prefer working at novels in unbroken phases. The stages are lengthy, with each extending to multiple weeks or months. Complex, difficult and emotionally exhausting, writing them is not conducive to the daily grind of a full-time day job.
The short forms of creative literature better lend themselves to that. As most writers work at other jobs, the time management enabled by poetry or short stories is almost necessary.
Do not get the wrong idea.
I consider myself fortunate to have secured a career in the arts. But it has always taken more than forty hours a week to produce the impoverished lifestyle of either twentieth or twenty-first century artist. In case you wonder, I am not now, nor have I ever been, either widely popular or well known.
From the start, eating on the regular as any kind of writer was a challenge.
I will not even try listing all the different mediums and methods in which I have attempted to earn my daily bread. Anyway, for most of us, we are better off leaving our worst moments to the shifting sands of rumor and memory.
I am going with that. You are free to join me.
For as ever, in this life, we must each choose a path for ourselves. And make no mistake, there are regrets aplenty here. Though none about career choice.
I can no longer explain it now.
Back in the day, it almost made sense. A thousand-word freelance gig at twenty-five cents per was decent enough money to a single fellow paying one-seventy-five for a month’s rent. When rents on the western prairies routinely top a grand as they do today, it will not get it done.
Try this one for size, no brag, just fact. Last week, I turned down a freelance writing job offering payment of zero-point-eight-cents-per-word. It would be more accurate to say ‘another’ job. At eight dollars per thousand words. Thus, I offer neither apology nor excuse for decades spent as touring singer/songwriter.
Stories worth telling, after all, come from somewhere. Unless you are one of those who makes things up. And while I do not automatically dislike such people, as with adjectives and adverbs, I avoid too much of their company.
For traffic with them is considered an occupational hazard. When they show up, I warn those about whom I care.
Back to our story. If, indeed, it turns out one.
Have I yet mentioned how much I enjoy the work of writing? Over the years, I have become a re-writer by choice, not necessity. Nowadays, rearranging everything read, heard or considered a dozen times happens by rote here.
The internal editor is always working.
An old friend, after taking in a Harwill stage performance years ago, remarked how it seemed I was not growing much older despite too many passing years. Like he always did, in response Harwill blamed the hat.
And though flattered, I did not mention my belief that growing up and getting old are different aspects of the spacetime continuum. Or how a man with something to do has little time or space for either if he plans to get it done.
Instead, I changed the subject. And left early next morning to deliver a show somewhere down the road later that night.
Before hitting the pillow, I wrote a line or two about what he said to me.
A laptop had already replaced the typewriter hocked in leaner days by then. Over the years, going from pen and paper through typewriter and personal computer to laptop took place with little drama.
Though at first, having learned to do it by hand made adjusting to interference from the word processor a challenge. By now, I am no longer willing to try writing for publication without it. And for anyone wondering, the answer is no.
I do not worry about losing my independent writing capability.
That comes from the mind, heart and experience of a writer. When I was a boy, affinity for it was called talent. Nowadays, the ‘t’ word seems akin to a curse.
Did I mention how professional editing software kills grammatical arguments? Indeed, there could be something to binary mathematics.
You are free to disagree. Here, the artist prefers working alone. Always has, ever will. Does software make it easier getting things done? Absolutely. I work slowly at the best of times. What takes a year or two with software aids might take five or ten without it.
C`est la vie.
These things take as much time as they do. I have always been a slave to style. I remain, as ever, unwilling to compromise. Here, the artistic vision comes first. Everything else serves it.
For I have long understood that one size does not fit everyone. After all, I also lived and breathed.
This next bit is for context. Like most experienced professional writers using a word processor, I can easily write a thousand or more words of either fiction or copy per day. With fiction, three drafts precede the start of multiple rounds of formal editing. When writing features, three drafts plus line, copy and proofreading is complete before the piece is submitted. For copy to be edited, I submit after the second draft.
Slow is a vague term with relative applications. There are also levels to all things.
And much like music created earlier the fiction I write has proven an acquired taste shared with an eclectic few. On every day ending in ‘y’, it pleases me more than I can say to know our minds share a curiosity to learn about this world through books.
Thank you for being here. I consider it a reason to hope for a better tomorrow. And that is what fiction writing has always been about for me. Despite what today’s world wants us to believe about it.
So, though life is a process of continuous change, on this one thing, you may count. For as long as I can, I will continue writing stories about our times shared here. As I work slowly, it can take a while for a new book to show up.
To me, that scarcity is another reason to buy and enjoy them.
I am not sure writing those few words back then made me a better writer. Nor if any of them since have improved my writing. Or that those to come ever will.
I know this much is a fact. Today, I wrote these words. I intended them to be legible and entertaining. If you asked, I would report editing them myself. With help from professional software purchased for the job.
Tomorrow, I plan to write more of them. Then, I will rewrite and edit those words until I believe they are good enough for you to read.
Only sometimes, I share them with you.
If you are a writer, you understand. And if a reader, well, you do too.
Those offering writers eight dollars per thousand words for the effort, however, do not get it. Though I will admit that much like the earlier mentioned adjectives and adverbs, they serve a purpose. And for those who make things up, they seem a near ideal match.
Here, writing about them suits me fine.
Thanks for sharing this blog with someone you believe will enjoy it.
Peace and love,
June 19, 2021