There's a seasonal rhythm to the freelance work I do. It gets busy in May and in September and in January because I'm prepping my clients for the big film markets--Cannes and American Film Market and the Berlinale. Hollywood is dead in August (there's a crime story title) and again from Thanksgiving to the New Year. This year the summer slow-down started early, which has left me with a lot of free time. You know what they say about the devil finding work for idle hands...
I should have been working on my novel--my self-imposed deadline is my birthday in mid-September--but instead I've been writing short stories. A lot of them, as it turns out. If you count the two a week I write for NoHo Noir, I have written 16 short stories this month, or one every two days. I haven't been that productive in years.
Patti Abbott's questions about a short story writer's process have me thinking about what was different this month. Part of it was simply that I had more time. While I don't have a traditional "day job," I still have to meet my monthly nut and that means stringing together income from a number of sources--the book reviews, the story reports, the editing gigs.
Another factor was fear. Like everyone else in the country, I've been frustrated by the debt ceiling debate. I don't care what side of the debate you're on, it's been surreal (in Suze Orman's words) watching the country's elected representatives posture and pontificate without regard to how their actions affect real people.
I've seen my projected Social Security payout figures and assuming I hold off drawing checks until I'm 70 or so, the pay might just cover my rent if I move to Panama. In theory, America celebrates the entrepreneur, but in reality, self-employed people get double-taxed, without the benefits of paid vacation and sick time. The upside is you don't have to deal with office politics; the downside is if you don't work, you don't get paid. And so this month I embarked on a submission frenzy--writing to prompts, writing to markets, writing just because an idea entered my head. I even went back to old notebooks filled with "half-baked" stories and finished them.
Remember Heinlein's rules of writing? The first one is, "You must write." The second one is, "You must finish what you write." This month I was all over that.
Now I just have to do it again next month. And work on that novel.