My son was watching a video in which one of the characters calls out, “Step aside and let a real moron take care of this!” That video is a whimsical mash-up of Team Fortress and some other game, and not a documentary of my efforts to launch a writing career, but the sentiment sort of fits.
Yes, I’ve been committing the classic error of the fool, and thinking about what I’m at. Shall I share?
First, the submitting of stories proceeds apace, and most of the places I’ve sent them off to are gratifyingly swift in the turn-around. Among the responses I’ve received, I want to single out Gallery of Curiosities for special mention; I did not get acceptance (sigh), but it was as civil and pleasant a rejection as one could possibly hope for. Even if they’re not presenting something I’m writing… yet… I urge you to give them a listen.
While submitting stories, and of course writing more of them, as readers of what had once been an interesting (of a certain value of that word) blog about fountain pens have been kept informed about, I have also been idly reading what other writers are up to. This is not just following the quite necessary “writers must read” advice, but looking at the blogs of some various writers and seeing what they have to say about how their lives are going.
This leads to the foolishness, in a round-about way. Filtering into the head are two lines of complementary notions about making anything like a living at this. On the side of short stories, which is what I’ve been devoting myself to since I got what I will call serious about the art, we find diverse rates of pay, the most likely being between 1¢ and 6¢ per word. There’s higher, but also lower. There’s also very discouraging things like one site, who I will not mention, who on the heels of offering the high end of that scale include an editorial comment along the lines of, “you get to keep the rights, but expect to make no money ever again out of a story we’ve printed,” which in its way is almost worse than being offered $5 and a free copy of the e-publication.
On the side of longer works, we have things like this fellow’s yearly revelation of his income as a writer. Have a look, and see if it doesn’t make you ponder. Yes, certainly, an established writer, a known name with many years of craft at his command, and even a fool knows better than to look at that and say, “Hey, I’mma get a BOOK DEAL and make loads of money!”
But here’s where this fool’s thoughts go; however you cut it, if you hope to one day make money that the household economy will actually detect, then you should be looking towards a novel. I hope one day to do just that with my writing; if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have propose ways for people to send money down the sidebar of this very forum.
At this point, the fool’s thinking becomes somewhat disjointed. Submissions of short stories are still useful, both in terms of “That’s this week’s groceries paid for!” when one gets accepted, and in terms of setting off any sort of small chime in the head of an editor to whom one would like to send the manuscript of a novel– I am assured that one of the better ways of getting one’s work into print is to have done so previously. Thus, pressing on with short stories is not foolish, really, even though it eats the time that could be used in writing a novel.
So, how does a real moron handle this? I’ve decided that I’m going to carry on banging away on the short stories until November. When the next NaNoWriMo kicks off, I will indeed begin in earnest on one of the novel ideas I’ve got rattling around in my hope chest. At the end of this coming November, I will shout triumphantly to the waiting world, “This thing is not quite twenty-five per cent finished!” I may be a fool, but I can do math, and knowing how fast I emit fiction, there is no way I can finish a novel in a month. Perhaps in the future, when I’ve got several novels pouring unexpectedly high rates of royalties upon me and don’t need The Regular Job, that could happen, but right now I can manage about 4,000 words a week, not a day.
Thus, come November, I’m contemplating a six-month hiatus in short stories while I slowly create a whole novel. The practical effect here will be, I think, none at all; the new way of running this railway means I don’t lose much forward momentum pounding out little bits of original content, and unless all those words start to induce drag or act like rocks in a backpack working on a novel rather than a short story should not affect them.
The readers of my other enterprise are apt to become VERY bored with me. It can’t be helped. I’m pouring my fund of interesting into other vessels. Hopefully, by this time next year, I’ll have a novel in hand and enough of a presence in the world of writing that it will attract a sympathetic editor.
April fool’s day is when fools get their wishes granted, isn’t it?