Wednesday, September 03, 2008

ARE YOU TAKING THIS WRITING THING SERIOUSLY, OR NOT?

I've been feeling stagnant lately.



To date, apart from the odd snatch of poetry and occasional non-fiction piece, I've written short stories. Pardon my ego, but I think I write them reasonably well. Problem is, as my darling so eloquently put it the other night, people are getting tired of waiting for me to do something meaningful. And let's be honest, they're probably right.



I've been thinking about the reason why I feel like I've reached a plateau in my career, and what it boils down to is this: I know I should be writing novels, but the idea of putting so much investment into a major work and then having to (possibly) navigate years of rejections scares the testes out of me. And because I'm scared, I allow myself to get distracted-- it's too easy to find shiny short story projects to play with, and push that novel work back just another month, just another quarter...... and on and on, and soon enough nobody's going to care, least of all me. And it feels like that time may be approaching pretty durn soon.



Lyn's been feeling stagnant lately, and being her, just sat the hell down and came to some decisions without getting all Rita Hayworth about it. Which means the decisive cow has left me with no alternative but to do the same :) And really, what it boils down to is one simple question, and if you read the title to this post, you've probably guessed what that was. I needed to do something to refocus myself-- I've already finished with short stories for the time being, and turned my attention back to my long-neglected, dusty manuscripts. Something concrete was necessary.



So I’ve finally shifted my ass and joined the SFWA and HWA. Whether it’ll have any direct impact upon my career is anyone’s guess. But having joined the peak bodies for my particular little corner of the writing world, it leaves me, at least mentally, drawing a line under several aspects of my previous performance: a literary “What would Jesus do?” of the mind (Ooooooh boogieboogieboogie)— a level of performance to live up to, rather than aspire to, or something like that. It's a way of benchmarking myself against something a little further up the food chain than I've been doing so far, a sign to hang above each project, to ward away complacency ("You're spending all that money to be in the SFWA. Is this thing worth having done that?").



Either way, ‘tis done, ‘tis done.

7 comments:

Martin said...

That's awesome news, both for you and for Lyn. As for the HWA/SFWA thing, well, I'm just jealous that you CAN join. I'm still quite a ways short of their standards, last time I checked. :/

Now get on with it, the both of ya's. I demand to see a Battersbook by the end of the year! :)

Lee Battersby is... said...

If you're the Martin I assume you are, then a novel published via Hachette Livre would surely qualify. You'd have to go through the steps to qualify the venue, as it's not listed on their site, but given the frames of reference for qualification I wouldn't imagine that'd be anything but a formality, surely?

And I don't want to pry too deeply into your deal, but the HWA requirements don't sound too mad for a published novel.

And then there's always Associate membership. I didn't go for it, but my reasons were kinda newbie and egotistical.

Martin said...

Yup, that Martin, and nope, the payment I got for the book was way below the definition of "professional payment". :( I quote:

3. The publication or sale of at least one book-length work, fiction, non-fiction, or translation, sold at professional rates and containing one or more elements of dark fantasy, horror, the occult, or fear. "Book-length" is defined as being in excess of 40,000 words. Professional rates are defined in this case as an advance of at least $2,000 against royalties of 5% or more, OR an advance of at least $5,000 against royalties of less than 5%.

In almost twenty years, I've never professionally sold a story or a book, by their standards. And the requirements are the same for the SFWA. Bugger. :(

And I won't join until I qualify. It's a pride thing.

Sean Lindsay said...

OMG *cough* 'bout fuckin' time *cough*

There's really no difference between a novel and a short story, you know. Beginning, middle, end. Except the novel has 300 pages of middle.

Lee Battersby is... said...

And I won't join until I qualify. It's a pride thing.

Yeah, that's kinda where I was with it: the Associate level felt a bit halfway. Mind you, I didn't really care about joining at all until I needed to draw a higher line than I have in the past. So, you know, if you don't actually need expensive, external motivation.....

OMG *cough* 'bout fuckin' time *cough*

Shaddap :) You of all people should know how pathetic and weaselly my self-image is :))))

Sean Lindsay said...

Shall I send you some woad?

Lee Battersby is... said...

Ohhhh, woad is me, woad is me.....

Ahem, sorry 'bout that :)