02 December, 2012

A Motivational Caveat

My "Unprofessional Professionalism" post seemed a little silly to me and I've realised why.  It isn't the goofy story or the models.  I like those just fine.  It's that I may have given the wrong impression. 

My point was to focus on the art, not the marketing.  I stand by that.  If you worry too much about what might sell and where, you forget to make good art.  The fact is, you don't need luck in writing.  The market is hungry for quality fiction.  If you also have original ideas, great.  That's all Leslie was saying when she told me to shut up and stop worrying about marketing.

This post is about both practicality and motivation.  Those two themes flow into each other, I believe, and it's why my other post may not have made much sense.  These are the motivations one must nurture in order to have a healthy practical attitude:  understand that if you write as well as Earnest Hemingway your work will sell, without question.  Some authors make millions while writing crap.  Good for them.  I don't want to bank on that anymore than I want to play Russian roulette.

But forget about banking.  My central motivation is to create great fiction, for the simple reason that I love great fiction.  If I can ever afford that Jaguar XR7 I long for (and indeed pay off my student loan) I'll be very pleased, but it's not the purpose of my life.

However, here's the caveat:

Take your work seriously.  Art is joyous.  To me, it's play most of the time, but one thing I've learned about doing what you love full time is that you have to take it seriously.  When I was purely focused on short stories, I found I got more done if I just wrote when I felt inspired.  I wrote faster, better, and I enjoyed life more.

Now, neck deep in a novel, I find regimenting my time more productive.  On weekdays, I make myself write for normal working hours, minimum. Usually, I want to write more. I usually start at 7 or 8 and keep going until my fiance drags me to the living room. Some days, though, I can't wait until 5:30. Some days my brain doesn't want to work at all. If it's a weekday, I remind myself how much I'd rather write my book than flip burgers or push papers.

A book is a monumental task, and daunting when mentally exhausted.  I now have to make myself rest on the weekends.   I've blitzed through fifteen, twenty day stretches before and found myself slowing down until, while it feels like I'm working hard, after writing a scene that would have normally taken me half an hour I look at the clock and two hours have drifted by.  Gusto becomes a waste of time and energy when not properly managed. 

So yes, it's a job.  It just has an artistic objective, one I've dreamed for my whole life: 

"Make good art."

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