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Posts Tagged ‘commuting’

Somebody sideswiped my car in a parking lot recently. Not a lot of damage, but a lot of stress. Now you get to share.

It’s funny how writing can be compared to so many other things in life, baseball, commuting, sexice cream … and now car accidents. I guess this is because fiction deals with all aspects of life. (More likely it’s because writing is an endeavor so fraught with problems that everyone can relate.)

  1. You never know when something’s going to hit you. It might be a phrase, an idea, or an SUV. You never know.
  2. Once it happens, the results are unimaginable. Which is strange, because writing is imagination. But will it become a story? Will it sell? Will your insurance go up?
  3. Your fate is in the hands of others. You send the story to an editor. You send your car to the shop. When will they return? Who knows?
  4. You have no idea who’s going to pay whom. Will the editor pay you? Will your insurance pay you? Or was all of this some expensive mistake?
  5. Where it all ends up is a mystery. Maybe the editor will publish you. Maybe the editor will reject you. Maybe you’ll get your car back. Maybe it will be totaled. See item nos. 2 and 3.
  6. You will wonder if it’s all worth it. Should you give it up? Should you take the bus?
  7. It will give you an idea. Maybe you should write about a man who has an accident. Maybe you should write about a man who decides to take the bus. Maybe you should write about a man who becomes a bus driver!
  8. You realize that this random event has given you an idea that  you weren’t expecting. You re-read item no. 1.
  9. You realize there is no escape. Accidents will happen. Editors will reject you.
  10. You resolve to do better next time. You will watch the cross-traffic. You will observe the traffic lights. You will avoid the omniscient viewpoint and the present tense.

Bonus: Having an accident and writing a story have this in common: You will never forget what it felt like.

#SFWApro

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It should come to no surprise to any regular reader of this blog that I feel writing is a pain in the neck. It’s hard. It’s slow. If it’s good, it requires you to lay yourself out on the pavement on a hot day and let people walk all over you, making comments. Some of them stand there for a long time (which can contribute some much need shade, so there’s that). And even when it comes fast and high like a home-run pitch, and you feel that connection when the wood meets the ball just right in the sweet spot,* you still have to run all those bases and there’s a good chance that at any point you’re going to be thrown out.

Yes, writing is like baseball. But I’ve already done that one. So in this episode, we’re going to examine how writing is like your daily commute.**

  1. You have to do it every day. (Some of us do take the weekends off.) And unlike commuting, you don’t typically have to watch for people cutting into your lane when you write. But you do have to watch to make sure someone else didn’t just write that story about the robot Romeo and his gelatinous Juliet and sell it to Asimov’s…d’oh!
  2. It can be a real slog. Sure, some days there’s no traffic, and it’s all clear sailing, but usually on holidays when you shouldn’t have to be commuting in the first place. But there you are, driving to the office–and knowing that when you go home, your night job will still be waiting for you to finish that chapter.
  3. It’s a long way to get to somewhere you already know. Okay, there are writers who don’t know how their books are going to end. To me, that’s like driving to a job when you don’t know where the office is. You may get there in the end, but it would be a lot easier if you looked at the map first.
  4. You don’t know what you’re going to find when you get there. This isn’t the same as not knowing where you’re going. This is the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to that story when it’s finished. Will someone buy it? Will you get a good rate? Will there be coffee in the pot or has that guy from Personnel just left an inch in the bottom so he wouldn’t have to fill it up–again? Because if he has…oh, sorry, off-topic.
  5. Tomorrow it all starts again. You know this. It’s going to be like this every day until you retire. Or get a better job…

Yeah, like there’s a better job than this. That’s the bonus round in “How Writing is Like Commuting”: You don’t do it because you want to; you do it because you have to. Just like commuting is part of your job, writing is part of you. And that’s why you do it, day in and day out, hoping for one of those days when traffic and your stories are all sails.

*Yeah, I said “wood.” None of this aluminum for me.

**Ironically, if you write for a living, you don’t have to commute.

#SFWApro

 

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