Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Be warned--this blog is long and confusing.  And it talks about absolutely nothing of importance.

There.  You've been warned.

Frustration is...very frustrating.  I don't handle frustration very well, particularly when I don't understand something.  Today was just filled with frustration and petty annoyances.  Turning this blog into a forum to blow off steam about the idiocy of the people I work with would be a bad thing, so I'm going to take a few more long pulls of an alcoholic beverage and try to turn it into something more positive.  Or at least more interesting. 

No.  I lied.  There is no amount of alcohol that is going to let me gloss over today.

One of the things that really, really irritated me was the need many people have to turn something that should be simple into a complex, rampaging beast. 

And irony, thy name is Amy.  Amy should listen to herself about making things hard.

Let me explain in a very circuitous manner. 

At work, my fellow team members took information that could have been presented in one simple spreadsheet and split it up among various spreadsheets saved all over the place.  You can't go to one source and get everything.  They further decided that even though they assigned me one region of the country, they would assign a few small sites to others and not tell me.  And they only documented this in an obscure spreadsheets I've never seen.

And our field folks get a different spreadsheet containing no assignments, so they don't know who to contact.  Since they all know me, naturally, the field calls me.  And stupid me, if they are in the region I *thought* I managed, I start working with them.

Only to be slapped upside the head because, well, oops, I didn't check that internal, obscure spreadsheet I didn't know about.  So I didn't see that this one, single site out of the entire region happens to be assigned to someone else.

Well, ex-cuuuuuu-se me.

I told them to put everything into one spreadsheet.  Make that the same spreadsheet we and our field folks view.  Then everyone knows who they should work with.

But no...that would make it too easy.  We can't do that.  So, being the stubborn little cuss that I am, after a long, fruitless discussion, I decided to heck with it.  I'm just going to work with my assigned regions, regardless of site, and if I get into trouble, well, so sue me.

I thought the point was to get the work done. back to reality.  As I mentioned, it's ironic that I can recognize this at my day job, but fail entirely to recognize that I'm making my own life as a writer excessively difficult because I won't do things the easy way.

Actually, I do recognize it.  I'm just unsure what to do about it.  It all comes down to commercial fiction versus...writing what you love to write.  If what you happen to love to write fits more-or-less into the current market, wow, you've got it made.

When I first started seriously trying to get published, I was in a critique group.  One of the ladies wrote very, very erotic material.  And all of a sudden, erotic is "in".  All the big publishers are scrambling to open new, erotic lines.  So she's got all kinds of contracts and books coming out.  Amazing.

But me...that's where the irony comes in.  My mom always said, "If there's an easy road and a hard road, you'll always take the hard road."

"But the hard road is the right road," I replied.  "Because the easy road takes you into the valley where you see nothing and the hard road takes you to the top of the hill where you can see everything.  And I need to see everything to know which road to take next."

I always had a logical reason for that hard road.

This time, I'm not so sure.  Am I just being stubborn in refusing to give up much needed scene and page space to long, explicit sex scenes?  I don't know.  It sure annoys me when other authors do that--particularly if it ends up they give short-shrift to the mystery or other sub-plot(s).

Of course, I could do that.  But, I'd have to give up a lot of sub-plots, complications, and much of the mystery.  Of course, I'd be much better compensated for being such a "good sport" about it and toeing the line.  I'd probably be a heck of a lot more popular.  I could be on that easy, smooth road to fame and fortune, heading down into that nice, green valley instead of up that rocky, steep hill.

I could be a NY Times bestselling author.

Well, maybe not--I mean a lot of it also depends upon the quality of your writing, your imagination, and your mastery of the writing craft in general...but...  If you are writing with the expectation to sell, and the market you are targeting is the commercial fiction market, how far do you go to fit in?

(Interesting that a lot of my stories concern people who simply don't "fit it".  I wonder where that theme comes from?)

What if what you love to write isn't commercially viable?

Do you say, "To heck with it, I'm a writer so I'll just write this commercial stuff because it will sell, even though I personally wouldn't--and don't--read it."

Wonder if pretty much everything you read tends to be from rather obscure authors, or authors from the last century?  And what does that say about you?  Do you need a mental evaluation?

Do you go to smaller publishing houses, knowing the trade-off is fewer sales and almost no pay?

How do you know when you are just being stupidly stubborn and need to learn to "get with the program" and write the popular stuff?

What if writing in a more popular style with more popular content makes you want to weep and slash your wrists?  (It probably means you really do need a thorough mental evaluation.)

What if writing in a less popular style makes you glow with excitement and gives you the drive to get to that keyboard and start typing?

Should you go to a psychiatrist and ask for drugs so you aren't depressed anymore when you have to give up the scenes crucial to solving your mystery sub-plot so you can insert sex scenes and still stay within the page limits?

When are you traveling that hard road out of sheer, cussed stubbornness?

(When will I learn to spell?)

And should a writer really put out a blog like this one?  Would a good writer like Jenny Crusie put out a blog like this one?  Methinks--not!

On the other hand, I'm not Jenny Crusie, although I often wish I was.  Sadly enough, even more often I wish I was H. H. Munroe (better know as Saki), but he was a guy and he died in a foxhole, and that's not my "thing".  I like being married to a guy, sure, but I don't really want to be one.  Especially not a dead guy.

But he was a fabulous writer.  

So, I sure don't have any answers.  I wish I did.

And if I've left you confused and wandering around in the weeds, I'm sorry.  But rest assured, I'm just as lost as you are.

1 comment:

Sonja Foust said...

Ugh, that DOES sound like a frustrating day! Sorry you had to deal with all that.

On the writing side of things, I'm not the best person for advice on this particular subject because I'm kind of a genre whore. I'll pretty much do any of them. ;) And since I like to read pretty much any of them, I'm ok writing pretty much any of them. Makes my life easier because then I get to say, "Hey, Harlequin authors get a pretty good deal. I'm going to write a Harlequin book," and then I do.

But I don't know WHAT the answer is if you DON'T write something and don't feel at all compelled to do so. Writing is supposed to be fun and if it's not, I guess the only point is to make money... so it's up to you whether writing something you don't really want to write is worth the potential extra money. Hard question.