The world where the story takes place is a dystopia, and unlike most cyberpunk novels I've read (or dystopic ones for that matter) the high-tech, low-society world, isn't our own. I know that technically breaks the rules for what can rightly be called cyberpunk, but when have I ever followed the rules? Pssssh. Never. I just broke one by not writing in complete sentences.
I have a deadline of November 1st. Can I complete it by then? Sure (don't ask how far along I am on this---I won't tell you). Like a good many second-book deals, this one was signed on spec. Kind of makes me feel official in a strange way. In fact, the moment that Rhemalda asked me about possible manuscript placement between the books in Guardians was the moment I felt like I'd accomplished everything I'd ever wanted to accomplish as an author. Honestly.
No, really. Remember, I rarely do things for the same reasons as 99% of the population. I don't care that Rhemalda isn't Random House or Tor. I love that they're small. It's never been about big advances or notoriety for me. It's always been about the writing...and it always will be. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I may do a lot of really vain, stupid stuff in my life, but I will never sell out.
Back to where I was going with this post...this deadline has brought up a topic that I've read about in other writing blogs and though I would like to think we steer away from the hashed over stuff here at Adventures in Writing, this one needs to be addressed again.
Writers and a career in writing, isn't unlike most other professions. Yes, there are some incredibly talented authors who made their living by doing other things and wrote in their spare time until they were established enough to do otherwise. But, they wrote in all of their spare time. Not just an hour a day. Maybe there are a few who managed to write one or two powerful books before hitting it big and then wrote nothing else. Those aren't career authors. That isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about John Grisham who held a full-time job as a lawyer and wrote feverishly until he was able to leave his job and write full-time. And you know what he did then?
I can tell you what he didn't do. He didn't wait on inspiration or the muse or a change in the winds.
I'm not as talented as Grisham---never will be. But, we have at least one thing in common: We both write full-time. I don't have children yet, and I don't have any other responsibilities that require attention like a 9-5 would. So, when I show up at the desk everyday, it's to work. My job is to write books--to be an author. You don't realize how long 40 hours really is until you have it, week after week at your disposal. Believe me, you'd write out of sheer boredom if nothing else.
There have been days when I might as well have typed my own name 5,000 times. We've all had them. But professionals push on through as many of those days as it takes in order to make it to where the good stuff comes creeping back in. And you know what? That's not talent. That's perseverance. This isn't an issue of ability, but of reliability.
Are you a reliable writer? Can the story count on you to show up? Or are you phoning it in?
When I had a regular job, there were days when I'd show up and, frankly, not do shit. Any author who tells you they don't occasionally do the same is lying through their teeth. But, if you keep your job there are consequences for those actions and those days are had with the outcome in mind. If I screwed around on Facebook all day at my old stomping ground, I'd be in that office after hours at least two days the next week making up for lost time. And you know what? Sometimes it was worth it.
Bottom line, don't sell yourself short because of your circumstances. Writing a novel is an intensely personal experience. Each novel is as unique as its author. There is no "right" time frame in which to complete a novel. But, don't impose your expectations on other people. If you write like my husband plays golf---infrequently and with lamented passion, don't sell your abilities, or anyone else's, short by assuming that you'd be exactly the same author if your circumstances were different. They may very well change one day. Your current concept of how long it takes you on average to finish a work is based on your environment and assumed limitations.
And limitations are as manifold as the words we use to describe them. No two are exactly the same.
So, with that, I'm leaving you to go back to work on Obsidian.