Last week was busy, harried, and interesting. I had to see a man about my eyes, thinking something was going on that wasn’t (good news), only to find out something else is going on that has him stumped (bad news), and I’ll be seeing a woman to get to the bottom of whatever it is. On Friday, we had our holiday party at work. A smaller fete this year than in others, a wonderful catered luncheon, and I won a DVD player in our “everyone wins” drawing. I had hoped for a Nano or airfare, but the DVD player in our home office is dying, so the replacement is appreciated.
My entry on writing speed got picked up by Media Bistro, which brought a whole bunch of new visitors my way, and also some comments by other bloggers. Even though I started the entry on the 6th, I didn’t get all my thoughts fleshed out enough to post until the 14th, and interestingly enough, I discovered during that time that I haven’t been the only one thinking about the pressure to produce. I’d bookmarked this fabulous entry by Tamara Siler Jones but didn’t manage to work it in last week – a post where she talks candidly about a career decision she recently made:
All three of us decided that this was a good decision for me at this time and that I would write my next novel without a contract, without restrictions on length, subject matter, or anything else, and that I’d turn it in when it was ready. Because it’s what I wanted.
I cannot articulate how much of a relief that was, getting permission to write for myself again.
Tam’s post is making the rounds, too. (Go read the whole thing!) I found it mentioned in one of my referrals where Jorrie Spencer says:
Anyway, I find it a fascinating topic. In part because I am defensive about my slow writing speed. I’m defensive in that it’s now considered professional to be able to produce at a certain rate, or else you’re just not going to make the cut. Or at least that’s my perception at times.
And in the comments to Jorrie’s post, Vanessa Jaye says:
I have to say, seeing established, successful authors (aside from Lara Kinsale) speaking out this way, makes me feel a little better about my gut in terms of my writing. I’ve never wanted to produce more than 1 book a year, or maybe 9 mos, in a pinch. But, yeah, I’ve had that same mildly defensive reaction/feeling you speak of, because others were pursuing multiple contracts with multiple publishers, ect and having X amt of releases lined up per year.
Jorrie links to Lauren Dane who says:
I was IMing with a friend this week and the subject of pressure came up. The pressure we put on ourselves so that it’s never enough.I was saying that I look at multiple book deals like hers and I feel like my novella sale isn’t good enough when measured against that. I see that kind of success in people whose work I adore, friends who I’ve seen work hard and struggle and I don’t resent it or begrudge it, I celebrate that. But I also feel this pressure to measure myself against it and then I find myself lacking.
And Saskia Walker says:
I’ve always believed in quality over quantity, and it’s very important for me personally to make sure that each novel I write is rich, well researched and different to the last. Next year’s schedule is pretty well booked up, and yet I found myself unable to say no to an exciting proposition. Part of it, I guess, is that fear of not being asked again, and of appearing ungrateful.
I mentioned my post on one of the author loops I’m on, and received a couple of private emails from others who are also going through the same analysis of how they’ve responded to the market pressure to produce, whether or not it’s been good for their careers and their personal lives, if they want to continue working under the same conditions, or if they can afford not to. Many have no choice. Putting out less than what they are now would be a serious financial burden.
I wish I could equate those long hours with working overtime, or even taking on a second job to make ends meet. One would think adding another contract to an already full plate would be comparable – except for the fact that writing is one of those careers that can’t be left at the office. Most of the time it can’t even be left out of dreams. Forget leaving it out of family time; have I mentioned how often I would sit at my daughter’s volleyball games or my son’s football games working on edits when they were not on the court/field? Yes, they are only young once, but they’re not going to do much growing if there is no food on the table, and that can often mean taking on another contract or an outside part-time job.
At least writing meant I was there to cheer them on instead of being stuck in an office, even if I missed many of the other team members’ accomplishments! I’m glad that so many of us are talking about this and realizing that we may have to make adjustments to what we’ve been doing in order to get where we want to be. It’s a good dialogue.
Tomorrow I’ll be guest blogging at the Brava Authors site, and will be doing my Tuesdays with Alison Q&A over there, along with a fun giveaway, and who knows what other ponderings come to mind!