Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Numbers Game

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.


  1. Wow! you have been busy! I would love to write more... two part time jobs don't leave me a lot of free time, or energy for that matter.

    We share the same birthday month... mine is the 20th of September.

    I think Heinlein's ghost was trying to remind me of the second rule, the other night. I have three unfinished stories that aren't going to write themselves. I finished my 10,000 word (is that novella-length?) anthology submission three weeks ago, so I can't use that as an excuse. My only other writing is the weekly F3 flash fiction challenge and Lily Child's Friday Prediction.

    Lily's is a weekly 100 word challenge... I did the first one just to see if I really could, since 700 words is the shortest I had written before. And, now... I find that I quite enjoy it... especially when I wait until just before the deadline. Amazing how adrenaline can stir the creative juices! LOL!

    I wish you continued success with your writing, and with all your endeavours! :)

  2. Veronica--I am in awe of your word length. I have done a number of 100-word challenges. Janet Reid posts those pretty often. And I've done Clarity of Night (250 words) a couple of times. Ten thousand words seems like an impossible goal. (I am 40,000 words into the novel but basically that's because I have 20 chapters of 1500-2000 words each.)

    Finish those stories!!!