Monday, April 25, 2011

Best day jobs if you want to write a lot.

Even with an entire day of nothing to do, a writer will find time to procrastinate. Throw in a high-maintenance day job, and a writer will get next to nothing done.That is why it is essential for a writer to find a day job which requires little to no effort, both physically and mentally.

The following are jobs that could allow for long periods of time where one could maintain a train of thought, i.e., stare at the wall for hours, and potentially type something meaningful on a laptop or other input device.

5) Writer : Well, calling yourself a writer is probably one of the best day jobs to have if you want to write a lot. Telling everyone "Shhh, I'm working!" while you lock yourself in your office for hours on end would be ideal. But this only works if you are married to someone who makes good scratch, or conversely someone who understands there will likely be no vacations, no Christmases and no money for bills.

4) Recluse : Nothing screams author like someone who locks themselves away in a cabin and allows their body hair to flourish unchecked while cranking out novels. You wouldn't have the luxury of electricity, but all the time in the world to peck away on that old Royal with the missing "h." That is, after you've chopped your wood for the day and skinned the rabbits you caught in your traps. Sending in your manuscripts via donkey to the nearest post office sounds quaint. Somewhere in Alaska would be your home.

3) Parking Lot Attendant : I can vouch for this job, because someone close to me works as a parking lot attendant. While there are some responsibilities, if you end up in the right ticket booth there is a good chance you could spend hours in a relatively comfortable "writing bubble." Drawbacks are hot summers with only a fan to keep you cool and annoying customers asking if the lower level is up or down.

2) House Sitter : Not only do you get that quiet time you need, but you can raid the refrigerator as well! To sit houses professionally, I imagine you need some credentials. Namely, have never broken into a house (at least not gotten caught). I actually follow a blog written by a lady and her husband who (I think) sit a house in beautiful Maine (CountryGirl). Sounds wonderful.

1) Night Watchman : While my other candidates for best day jobs for writers are relative long shots, this one is probably the most realistic. Sure, you have to walk the grounds every so often, but mostly you have a full eight hours to completely screw off without the boss looking over your shoulder, especially if you work third shift. If you are lucky and the place has a fast internet connection, you could probably get in some serious World of Warcraft leveling as well. Believe me, this career path has crossed my mind many times.

Aw hell. Let's face it. No matter what day job we have, us writers will always find something to complain about. True productivity comes from inside.

Any other suggestions for best day jobs for writers? Please, leave me a comment. I'm curious.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A writer's tale from the slush pile.

I received my first recent rejection last week of a story I sent in to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a really great publication. I can't say I wasn't prepared for this, but it always stings.The story is simple in its premise--a dragon attack on a town--but told with some decent (I think) plot twists and good characterization. The rejection notes mentioned a shifting POV (point of view) that left the editor unable to get into the main character.

Fair enough. I discussed this POV shift with J.M. Martin before submitting the story, and we both thought it was an acceptable addition to the plot. And what drives me to publish this story is that it is based on a nightmare I had some six months ago; extremely vivid and terrifying enough to make me want to write about it.
Once the sting of the rejection wore off, I felt the need to make the story better. But not before sending it around to a couple more publications. If I get similar comments about the shifting POV, then I'll make some corrections.

One thing that made me feel better was to type in "tales from the slush pile" in Google and see things from the editors' eyes. I came up with some very enlightening reads.

Romance editor punts!

An editor finds some interesting things in the slush pile.
And some good advice.

The bottom line is that you have to love doing this. Beyond just reading and enjoying fiction, you have to burn with the need to actually create something that moves people. You have to love the process, the getting there, the interaction with other authors and readers. It is easy to be selfish, but much harder--and more rewarding--to get out there and genuinely become part of the writing community.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Write the kinks away...

Writing used to be more of a chore. I would sit there, waiting for the words to come, thinking this had to be the strangest type of profession. After all, writers just sit there looking thoughtfully at their computer screens, fooling around on the internet, or finding anything else to do other than writing.

Only recently have I been able to write because it is "fun," accepting both criticism and praise with equal amounts of grace, and oftentimes enthusiasm.

Mostly, this is because I've had years of sharpening my teeth on non-fiction, and so the general task of writing comes much quicker now. Publishing several hundred articles for Demand Studios, explaining complex Unix ideas through email, or ghost writing for clients goes a long way in developing decent writing skills. It also helps to have gone through the process of self-publishing a book. There were tough times, harsh criticisms and even harsher rejections. But in the long run, I was able to make a part-time profession out of it.

Up yours, odds!

The lesson here is that you should never shun the opportunity to hone your fiction writing by slogging out some non-fiction. Take whatever you can get. Sometimes the pressure of meeting deadlines can bring out the best in you, and that can only lead to good things.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Each day, I fight to write.

One of the most talked about subjects for any group of writers is writing production. We constantly try to increase daily word count. And it isn't just about quantity. No one wants to produce crap. But regardless of how much we labor over a character or scene, or procrastinate because we cannot find the words, we all know that to stop writing is death.

Most writers have families to support, and yet they still avoid making the sacrifice of pursuing a normal career due to the demands of a high-pressure day job, and the effects it has on writing production. As for myself, I put my fiction (and a family) on hold to build that career. Still, those who feel writing is their calling will always be willing to work around just about anything to get the words out.

Call it the voices in our heads, self-destruction or our pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. For some it just pays the bills. 

Most agree that setting a daily writing schedule helps, and I'm on board with that. Quit browsing the internet when you should be writing, and seek isolation when you do write. Watching Dexter while trying to write does not work. Trust me. A writer friend of mine, Jon Sprunk, wrote a great article about being In The Flow.

Are there any aspiring writers out there? How much do you write?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

And we're off...

Since I'll be doing 4 articles on heroics for Rogue Blades Entertainment (first up Friday, 7/1), I thought I'd put something together where folks can "check me out."

Are you checking?

This blog is dedicated to my fiction, the writing process, and any other abnormalities of life that influence my writing. It has been over 10 years since I've published a piece of fiction, but my pen (or fingers) have been hot, and the submissions are out.