Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Failed Novelist

When I first started writing, I came up with a plan. I was actually quite proud of it. I researched my favorite game designer -- Nigel Findley. Now, this may seem strange at first, but bear with me. He wasn't my favorite author. I have varied and wide tastes. Moorcock. Gaiman. Burroughs. Conan Doyle. But in Nigel, I found someone who had been a game designer who became an author. So I researched how he did it. And I rigorously followed his path.

First, I gave myself two years to establish myself as a freelance game designer. This is a lot easier than it seems. At the end of that second year, I was to find a job as a full-time, paid game designer. I would do this for a year, then I would start writing novels. These would be "gamer fiction", stuff based on other games. Then, I would transition to real novels.

For the most part, this worked. I was a professional game designer within one year. Then, it stopped. I was even offered a Star Trek novel. I didn't take it, because it was, y'know, Star Trek. Those people never get out of that dungeon.

It wasn't that I didn't like to write. If you ask any author, they'll tell you that writers write. All you have to do is put your ass in your chair and write. It doesn't matter if it's good. It doesn't matter if it has anything to do with your novel. All you have to do is write. It's better to write at the same time everyday, so your creative subconscious knows when to give forth her pearls of inspiration. That wasn't my problem. I was used to routinely writing 5,000 words per day. I could definitely put my ass in a chair and write.

For awhile, I thought my problem was that I didn't have any ideas. But that's not true, as attested by my hard drive loaded with short paragraphs of novel ideas. (Not that the ideas are novel in any way; they are ideas for stories.) I have all kinds of stories swirling around in my cranium, like bats in a cave.

So if I can write, and I have ideas, then what's then problem?

As near as I can tell, I need deadlines. Deadlines are terrific motivators. I mean, look at the word. "Dead" is a part of it. Meet the target date, or you're dead. Who the fuck wants to die? Even professional death? I had an assignment once and I missed the deadline, and I was pulled from the work. I've done that, as an editor, more times than I'd like to count (because you don't want to tell someone that their work is for naught, and your's truly would then have to write the piece in something like two days; hence the 5,000 words a day). Deadlines sharpen the mind.

Without them, I am well and truly dead. Now that I'm no longer a paid, professional writer, I don't have anyone assigning me deadlines. I am free of that particular treadmill. And like the grasshopper from the fable, I'm content to just hop around and not produce. The ants have got it all over on me. I can't assign myself a deadline, because I always change them. I never meet my own, internal deadlines. I can't. Because I'm not paying myself. Others aren't depending on me to write. So I let them slide.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to keep in the habit of writing. I like to write. It's like telepathy. I set down my thoughts, and you, entirely someplace else, in another time, read what I write and I put my thoughts inside your head. I love that. I only wish I could do this in story form.

But if I'm going to be completely honest, there are times I've started novels. I've discovered something about myself. I need a muse. A person to write for. A person to impress. I've started so many novels in order to impress a girlfriend, only to drop them once the relationship ends. It becomes too painful to continue writing something for someone who is no longer a part of your life.

I know that I should write for myself. But the post of muse is tried and true. It's very important.
And I'm searching for my muse. Without her, I will continue to be a failed novelist.

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