deadlines & dread

Bee's picture
Tue, 03/01/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

Deadlines! Oh, the horror! And oh, so necessary.

I never accomplish anything unless I have external motivation: a publisher, or a promise, or a legitimate need to earn money. Vanity and boredom might be sufficient motivations to play with words or tell a story, but I would never sit down and write without remunerative inspiration. I just can't - the words do not cooperate. I will happily tap and scratch away for years on projects that I never sell, or even show, but the intent from the first paragraph is always publication.

The point people often miss is that those of us who do this for a living have longer goals - one project may or may not be a "hit" but the career itself is cultivated by diligence.

I don't know any professional writers who, if they are telling the truth, function otherwise. Even if the pay is small or fame insignificant, they are either motivated by practical concerns - or they are not writers. The word is not a metaphysical demarcation. It is a job title.

Moreover, it is a job title I do not use unless forced. My youthful pretensions cooled well before my fifteenth birthday, and since then I have never understood why anyone capable of other work would want such a frightening, unstable career. I would rather have been a welder. Or ferry boat captain. Think of the uniforms!

George Orwell likened finishing a book to recovering from a long dreadful illness and that has certainly been my experience. Publishing Lessons in Taxidermy was harder than living through many of the dread experiences described therein.

I'm not exaggerating.

I rarely hang out with the people who would naturally read my work (blame geography) so there isn't much point in talking about it. What am I working on: magazine story, journal article, anthology, book? It doesn't matter. You wouldn't inquire if I were a proctologist, right?

The only important fact is that I work, every day, whenever and wherever I can scratch the time.