Monthly Archives: May 2012
Part of being a writer is being essentially self-employed, effectively being creative, on demand, on a schedule, with only yourself as your manager. There are two major things you have to master to make a serious go of that.
The first is keeping up with writing when things are going well. If you’re on schedule or ahead of schedule, it can be easy to slack off because there’s no sense of urgency. A little of this can be a good thing, to keep you fresh. Too much, and you can dig yourself into a hole. Writing day in and day out can be boring, or frustrating, or uninspired, and you have to overcome all those states if you’re going to make a living with the power of the word.
The second thing you have to master is keeping up with writing when things are not going well. The deadline crunch is a big part of that, but that can be mastered with good pacing, writing under pressure, and pulling longer writing days when you are behind.
Much, much harder is dealing with other kinds of problems. A major expense comes along, and you spend too much time worrying and not enough being productive. Relationship problems make it hard to be happy and thus hard to be creative. A loved one gets sick, and you have to try to work on a laptop in a hospital room on too little sleep, because the stress has given you insomnia, and you want to spend every waking hour with your wife at the hospital anyway.
Those major life problems are going to come at you. And you can’t really plan for them, except in a broad way (staying well ahead of schedule is one good option). There’s no good way to practice for them either. Like anything during adversity you’ll handle some things, find make-shift solutions for others, and fail at some. Maybe fail at more than you’d like.
But it’s all part of the writer’s life.
My mother, the Empress of the Geeks, deserves a huge debt of gratitude. Not just from me, though I love her and honor her as best I can, but also from anyone who has ever enjoyed anything I have ever written. Because of her, I grew up in a house where the hallway leading to my room was lined with bookcases, stuffed with Lensmen, Ringbearers, Princesses of Mars, Space Cadets, Psychohistorians, Cimmerians, Unabridged Dictionaries, Atlases of worlds that have never existed, Swords in the Mists, Fire Dancers, books of Chess Variants, and Complete Hoyles.
As if that was not enough she took me to see Star Wars when I didn’t want to go (I was bored by the idea of “space princesses,” right up until the first second of footage actually rolled). When I couldn’t find anyone my age to RPG with (when my age was 11) she boldly took the role of “Dungeon-Mistress” despite having no particular interest in doing so. She kept a gaggle of young boys quiet (to the eternal thanks of their parents) every Sunday, at the local Rec Center, for two years before passing us off to (and driving us to the house of) another DM. When the “D&D Scare” hit, she calmly told other parents she had *run* D&D games, and it was nothing to worry about.
She raised me in a house where questions were always fair game, bigotry and racism discouraged, and intellectual achievements given as much or more praise as physical ones.
She served as an example as well as encouraging me to find my own voice. She was president of the National Space Society, saw the Delta Clipper fly, scheduled a local Science Fiction Convention to run on my birthday (and got two suites for me and my friends), and introduced me to CJ Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey, Glen Cook, and L Sprague de Camp. (Not just to their books mind you, through her high-level of fandom she managed to introduce me to the actual people!)
There’s more, but like all children I’ll never manage to remember all the things my mother did for me. What I do remember is an amazing environment that allowed me to become the writer and designer I am today. So thanks, Mom. You helped me do a lot, and everyone who has ever enjoyed any of it should thank you too!