“Writers Write” Is That Really Too Much To Ask?

I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo and polishing off a novel I’ve been struggling with for about two years now but something was making the rounds of my independent author feeds the other day that rubbed me such a wrong way I stopped what I was doing and took a minute to reply that turned into an hour and several paragraphs. Ain’t no one got time for that shit in that format so I had to snip it out and bring it here.

Basically it’s the idea that the golden rule of being a writer, the simple life affirming maxim that “writers write,” was just too much. Inspiring guilt and angst in people with *gasp* actual lives and responsibilities outside of their writing.  Because failing to write, every day, every second. Every. Possible. Moment. Brings with it such horrible feelings of guilt and sorrow.

I don’t have any problems with the phrase “writers write.” There’s nothing in that short phrase that sets your potential pace; it simply, succinctly, draws you to put words to paper; again and again, put words to paper.

Your pace is your own, there are some well renowned novelists that couldn’t manage more than a single word a day, maybe a paragraph a month. Do you think they sat in front of their blank pages staring at them constantly for the entirety of that time? No. They lived their lives. They went to work, took care of their families, went to war or walked across the country. Did they feel guilty for every moment that they weren’t putting words on paper? Who knows, most of them are dead now so we can’t ask but I highly doubt that they did.

If the phrase, “writers write” is causing you some distress it’s because of your own issues with how much you write. It means you know you could find time to write a little bit more often but you’re not, hence the guilt. If you’re really doing all you can and truly don’t have the time for your writing, there won’t be room for guilt.

However if you know you could have written but instead you watched another episode of your favorite TV show, read another chapter of someone else’s work or did something else that’s trivial instead of feeding the beast within you that is your writing, then you’ll feel guilty. You’ll feel guilty because you betrayed yourself, that phrase didn’t betray you. “Writers write” didn’t set the bar so high that you couldn’t help but fail to meet it, that would be you doing that. So stop, reevaluate and either put that bar someplace you can actually reach or stretch and make sure you meet your own expectations.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s 5 p.m. and I’ve got two thousand more words to get out of my head and onto paper.


NaNoWriMo starts in 3 days and I’ll be participating… I may have gone certifiably insane… Send coffee and donuts… Don’t worry “Tasting Ash” is still scheduled for release on January 24th.


I’ve been getting a lot of questions that sum up simply as “how?” How do you write a whole novel? How do you write a series? How do you self publish? How do I book cover? Sales how!?!

Simple questions often have a complex answer that seems discouraging but shouldn’t. I can, and  have, outlined pretty much all the steps in writing a novel and/or a series and how to format for epublication. I’ve outlined how to do it for as little money as possible (though there’s no real way to do it completely for free, you have to have at least one editor and they will cost you) but still I get asked “how.”

So I’m thinking of setting up an ecourse to help people through the process, step by step though of course that brings up all kinds of new questions. Like what do you want/need to know first? Besides write the damn thing; I’m sure there’s something hopeful independent authors are really struggling with and want to know how to do right off the bat.

Let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll try to come up with something to help. Now back to work on this massive bloody novel.


Look Ma! No Hands!

I’ve been having a few nagging pains in my three of the fingers on each hand. When that pain progressed to my thumb and wrist I started to worry and when I woke up one morning and realized the fingers on my wright hand were swollen like sausages – I realized it was time to take an extended break from writing anything.

Since then I’ve iced, braced and rested till the swelling and pain has pretty much gone back into a more manageable box. Of course now that I’ve got my normal dexterity back I’m not taking it for granted! Right up till the point where I had to put everything I love on hold so I could heal and perhaps manage to keep on doing it a little bit longer, I didn’t really hold much truck with the idea that even writers get occupational injuries.

In my mind, carpal tunnel was something other people got. Something other people had to worry about because they worked their body to the limit, twisting it all out of reasonable shape. But of course, I was different.

I pay attention to my body. I don’t push it too far. I hydrate like a fiend. I rest and stretch and do yoga; even when i felt the first twinges in my wrists while moving through upward and downward dog I just wrote it off as a mistake in my technique. Serious repetitive motion issues were for other people – not me.

Funny thing is I’ve worked my hands into a pretty bad state before – and I probably will again. And again. Until one day I can’t recover with a few days of book rest and lots of bracing. Not because I’m unaware of the risks and not because I’m not trying to be careful but because it’s a hazard of the occupation. Thankfully I know enough to stop as soon as things get bad and wait till I’ve healed but I’ve seen lots of writers and artists who push themselves past that point until they need surgery to be honest I might have been one of them if I thought for a second I could afford to let my body get that far gone. Right now the cost of stopping to recover is a lot more reasonable than the risk of pushing through till I don’t have that option.

Ah well, lots of rambling to explain where I’ve been and why I’m slow with updates on “Tasting Ash.” Funny how at one point this month I honestly thought I’d be done with the novel by the 30th. Now I know I’m only about halfway done with the manuscript. Thousands of words to go before I sleep.

Wow, That Was Fast!

And we’re back.

A lot faster than I had originally expected too. Kind of makes my head spin all the stuff that’s gone down in the last few days to make this possible. I did so much more running around town than I’m used to, got so much more exercise and sunlight!

And absolutely no writing done.

Some people can write a bunch of novels and have brilliant and involved lives complete with kids and friends and two or three jobs. I’m the hermitage type that can be alone in the woods for years and still only crank out a single novel or two. I want to be faster and more dedicated but it’s time to face facts, that’s not how this works for me.

Now things are back to normal-ish and I’d love to promise I’ll finish up “Tasting Ash” this month and move onto formatting but I know better. I hope a more unflappable concentration is something I can get with lots of practice, gaining more writing muscle by pushing myself to write more under more distracting conditions. Because right now it seems more like a hard coded limit that I can’t increase I can only learn how to work around.

Don’t Panic!

If you’re seeing this than the inevitable consequence of not publishing for a year has caught up with me and I’ve temporarily lost my internet connection. The good news is, with all the extra time offline I’ll surely zoom right through writing the new book. The bad news is, no blog posts, facebook, twitter or tumblr till things are sorted.

A Tale of Two Shadow Orgs

I’m busily cranking out words for “Tasting Ash” but there have been a few moments during the writing of the new book that have left me feeling a bit adrift because this novel is going to be a very different animal from everything that’s come before.

Up till now Ash has been, a protected Company employee with an unlimited budget, years of experience and training; set in her own element, a world very similar to our own but one where shadow organizations tend to take things a step closer to madness. Still for the most part she’s been living in the real world and doing relatively realistic things.

And then the Corporation got a hold of her. Now that’s she’s in Corporate control – well Toto, let’s just say it ain’t Kansas.

Then I realized that the difference in tone is all about the two shadow organizations and their completely different core values.

The Corporation: founded by Helen Raymond (with unspecified assistance from Buddy Jenkins) some two hundred years ago, is a family oriented company that specializes in concealment and secrecy (having a bevy of both Cleaners and Killers in their employ). Despite her mischievous nature it’s obvious that Helen goes out of her way to preserve the illusion of normalcy in the world, simply by how close to normal Ash’s life has been up to this point.

The Corporation: founded by a bunch of people we don’t know yet, a few hundred years before the Company, is far more interested in pushing the boundaries of reality and looting everything of value they can find in the borderlands and beyond (they use that loot to create war machines and finance even more looting). Their orientation is a little like the way some people teach children to swim – toss them in the deep end and see who floats or doesn’t.

And boy did they throw Ash in the deep end.

There are other shadow organizations in Eldritch Elysium that haven’t appeared yet (though the old families of various cities have been mentioned in passing) and hopefully none of the others will be kidnapping Ash as an introduction so their core philosophies will likely be a lot more subtle. There’s also a few free agents running around with enough power to warp reality but mostly no inclination to do so that will probably be making appearances in later novels.

Up to this point the Corporation and the Company have been mostly ignoring each others activities. The Corporation is the older of the two and found the Company’s specialties highly useful for delicate work that they couldn’t be bothered with while the Company was content to have Corporation among it’s client list but didn’t appear to have the kind of firepower necessary to go up against it in open war. That balance has sifted rather drastically.