How Winter Got His Groove Back

About a year and a half ago, I put up an obnoxious “I quit!” post and was planning on phasing out the blog and the Facebook page and just taking up my marbles and going home. Don’t bother looking. I took those posts down. Sort of sends a conflicting message when you’re trying to get people to buy your books and read your short stories. (Like Road Rules and Northcoast Shakedown, 99 cents and $2.99 respectively)

I’ll admit a big part of my disillusionment was a long layoff. Yes, I was doing contract work to pay the bills, but the sheer frustration dealing with idiot recruiters who think you should feel privileged in this economy that they offered you bag boy wages really puts a damper on your self-esteem and your mood. Plus, between extended commutes, a large school load, and the need to go job hunting, my writing production had dropped. Apparently my agent had dropped me without telling me, which didn’t make me happy at all. So I said “Screw it!” I had to concentrate on not just finding a new job, but changing careers. So long, publishing. I won’t let the door hit me in the ass on the way out.

And once I took that pressure off myself, I got the itch to write again. Not much happened during that cold, jobless January. I sort of lay dormant emailing resumes and watching James Bond movies. Towards the end of that, I caught the bug. I thought maybe I’d take three of the Bond continuations and script movies out of them. Obviously, I’d never be able to do anything with them, so that gave me even more freedom. I did an outline grafting Kingsley Amis’s Colonel Sun onto the Casino Royale continuity. (You will never read this, so don’t ask.) Stupid. Useless.

And fun.

At that time, I started playing around with science fiction. I had bits and pieces of a series idea floating around, and I started writing background material. Better. Most of it is just doodles and story outlines, but it’s a damn sight better than doing nothing. Or writing what amounts to James Bond fanfic.

My output, if you’ll look at the short story page, was sporadic in 2011. For 2012, I decided week nights would be for short work. When I finish writing this, I will finish a rewrite of my first SF short story (I’ve lost 5000 words off the original!). Weekends are for long work. If long work means reading a draft or working on an outline, or a short story gets finished, I work on a bogus rock bio that forces me to tell a different kind of story. I just looked at it the other night. It’s up to 75,000 words, and the dude – who is 65 as he “writes” this – is not even 20 yet in the story. Busy guy, and he hasn’t even banged his first groupie yet.

All that is to keep me writing prose. I may attempt a poem or two. Gerald So tells me I can actually write poetry without driving people screaming into the night. But the goal is to make sure a short gets subbed every month, and that six SF stories go out this year. Ideally, that’d be 18 stories, but the current short WIP required just a little trimming.

The thing I’ve found is that I’ve been able to slide into writing a story again. It’s gotten easier to feel my way through a story, to figure out what needs to be changed or where it’s gone off the rails.

Mostly, writing has become pleasurable again. Graham Powell, the brains behind CrimeSpot, mentioned that many of us who put out books in the mid-2000’s sort of sputtered and faded these past few years. Maybe that’s true. But somewhere during that insane time when I could still travel a lot, writing became a “hafta,” not a “wanna.”

Now I wanna. I haven’t felt that in a long, long time.

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2 thoughts on “How Winter Got His Groove Back

  1. I pretty much quit, too, for a good couple of years. I didn’t blog then, so I didn’t announce it anywhere, I just wasn’t writing. It just wasn’t fun, and it was depressing, when it seemed less and less likely a big publisher would take on the kind of genre-mixing stories I write. Indie publishing gave me hope and made it fun again. Because why do it if it’s not fun?

  2. When I was talking about all the writers, mainly PI writers, who were doing such good work around the turn of the century, what I had in mind is that many peoples’ priorities have changed. I’m sure that the traditional publishing industry has cockblocked some of us, but really I think it’s more an issue of changing tastes.

    I know my tastes have changed a lot in the last five years. The stuff I’m writing now, I would never even have glanced at back then.

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