Writer on Writer Crimes

There’s nothing writers love more than giving each other advice.

It is the most irritating thing short of catching ebola from a tax form.

But there are hundreds and hundreds of blogs dedicated to writing about writing, because it doesn’t get more tediously meta than writing about writing about writing. Maybe this is why some writers have to work so hard to keep friends around. And most of the writers giving advice haven’t even published so much as a pamphlet, but since opinions are as plentiful as assholes, its a little difficult to get away from. This is the reason why I don’t actually want to hang around writers. (But I have hung out with some pretty cool authors.)

Now, if I want advice on writing, I want it from Neil Gaiman, Lauren Beukes or Toni Morrison or Chuck Paulahnuik. And I do seek it, please believe my pretty white gi. And from what I gather, the only advice is practise and read more. That’s all there really is to it. Everyone wants a great novel and everyone wants to be JK Rowling but no one wants to put in the legwork. Great authors are well-read authors, and have been writing non-stop for years. Whenever people casually say ‘oh, I thought I’d write a novel, but its like really hard and stuff’, it usually turns out they’ve never written out more than a cheque before. Of course its fsking hard. All I’ve managed is 6 of the damn things and I’m 25. Compared to Stephen King or even Barbara Cartland, it is a pitiful output. Nowhere near enough, and definitely not good enough.

So in the run-up to Nanowrimo, there will be hundreds of blogs dutifully telling other writers what to do. And it is nearly always people who have no idea what they’re doing. Stupid advice about writing schedules, or not having a schedule, or writing in the morning or on the train. Its never a straightforward “write until you get sick of it. And then write some more. And read more great books by real authors. And then write some more.”  The whole joy of writing for me is that it is such a solitary joy and that it is the one thing that (to a large extent) doesn’t rely on anyone else. Toni Morrison said in an interview that she writes books that she wants to read. Isn’t that part of the point? Since when did we need consultants and talent brokers?

Of course there are great articles that are interesting and give good advice, but isn’t the one thing writers hate most is advice? I have a book called You Know You’re A Writer When…By Laura Adair, and one of the signs is “when a friend timidly suggests that maybe the umbrella scene isn’t necessary, you find you don’t like that friend so much anymore.” Its true and no one wants to admit it, but no writer actually likes being corrected. We admit it is necessary, and we know that we sometimes have to do what our publishers want but no writer actually enjoys it. (For better insight into the writer-publisher relationship, read He Beats Me, But He’s My Publisher over at Mad Genius Club).

So yes, in the Nanowrimo frenzy, amongst the joys and horrors of trying to make wordcount between work, training and the Handsome Physicist, the last thing I know I want to hear is “oh, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t you know you’re supposed to write naked?”

The Nanowrimo Shop of Horrors

There is no doubt that Nanowrimo is a word to be feared, even if it does sound like something that happens to people who put their fingers inside paper shredders.

I am currently sitting on just over 43k. I have 5 days left to write 7k more. Of those 5 days, I am losing the weekend. And I’m blogging instead of writing. (And they are very different acts, I assure you.) I can see the end, and I have at least scratched down on some paper somewhere how I think its going to end, pseudo-meaningful epiphany for main character included, but goddammit it feels like I’m trying to wring AB- out of a rock. Or Mick Jagger.

Basically, what I attempted (and I do feel that is the most appropriate word) is a prequel to the Tatsumaki Cluster Fuck (TCF). Enter all the characters alive and slightly less deranged than they all become in Ship Song and Still A Captain. Essentially, the TCF is a study in madness. Several characters either descend into it and never come back out of it or are touched by it at some point. Those who are au fait with the series will know what I mean. The prequel is an attempt to study the roots of their later madness. And work in some sex scenes. (There are two. Yay? Maybe, I don’t know.)

I’ve only sent it to one person in its horrible, unedited form. Poor Caitlin will likely wonder why she ever enjoyed my writing, and I send my condolences to her abused eyes and briefly-tortured mind.

And its all Tallulah’s fault anyway. This was her bad idea.

But it hasn’t been an entirely bad idea though. I have enjoyed watching the little nano counter rack up the words as I raced to meet each daily deadline, and sometimes scream past it. If anything, I am grateful that I know have a big, fat draft. It would probably be best to combine it with the first one and make it a weighty tome. And give it some semblance of a plot. Because it seems to be a series of disconnected events with a very thin underlying thread better not probed too much for fear it snaps. There’s a lot of adventure, a great deal more drinking than necessary that gives it a Raymond Carver kind of feel and some interesting combinations of words and expletives. And some sex, did I mention that? Well, one is three-quarters of a love scene. The other is a long, drawn-out lovemaking scene dripping with sentimentality. I was fighting to make word-count that day, and writing dripping sex scenes comes easily to me.

So, with some grind during work and in the evenings after training and when everyone goes to sleep this weekend during the last big sleepover of the year, I will hopefully finish and get me that print voucher. I am contemplating using it to print the monster-sized Dojo Heroes. I am fond of it, and no publishing house would ever touch it. Who would be interested in a copy?

In any case, I have some websites to fix and then some serious writing to do. Light a candle for me, if it seems I’m fading.