Going to try something new to get more fiction done and “out in the world”. And that is the one thing I haven’t tried: stating what I’ve done at regular intervals.
I usually work on two projects at a time out of a project pool of 10-12 ideas. Currently I’m working on a “hard sf” novella and a post-apocalyptic or far-future short story. The novella is complete as a story in its current form, but I have some backstory and details of the local setting I want to add in that will probably double the length. The short story is perhaps 5-7 days in a row of writing to complete and yes I have performance/success anxiety over taking that last little step. The other little catch with the short story is that it’s part of what I think will be 3-8 interlinked stories set in a common world. Something like “The World Inside” by Robert Silverberg without all the pervotron parts. So my brain doesn’t think of finishing one story as completing the mission, and maybe simply writing that out will help me over the hurdle and do the other stories too.
Anyway, long story short, this week I watched a documentary for backstory details on the novella and got some great ones to work in and I made no progress on the short story. The plan for next week (I start weeks on Sundays) is to finish the short story and do an outline of the revisions to the novella. I don’t think I need to see more than two or three more documentaries to get the kinds of details I want in the novella (food, social customs, male and female roles, clothing, how the houses and buildings look).
I have a lot on my plate this calendar year and the biggest obstacle to getting back to writing fiction regularly (3x/week or more) is that my days are filled up with kid-related logistics until next school year or another child is potty-trained, whichever comes first. I used to find it strange how people would go off somewhere and binge-write for a few weeks a year and then nothing the rest of the year. It’s usually a man thing, but it might end up being a mom thing in my case. We’ll see how these updates help with avoiding that.
I have the usual obstacles of a mother of young children regarding writing at length, but I also have the difficulty of deciding whether to focus on fiction or continue poking around with nonfiction blog posts.
It’s a tough one, because I can’t put up the fiction as I go, nor can I really discuss it, since I may be working under pen names beyond the current one. But I write fiction a lot faster than a blog post. In the time I’m writing this, I could have just about done 500 words of fiction. (About 10 minutes, btw.)
But on the other other hand, I’ve learned so many interesting things about modern American history and education, and some of them are helpful with the fiction. It’s a dilemma.
I have been stumbling across a lot of SAHMs who have seized upon self-publishing as a way to make money while having the flexibility to be at home with their children for homeschooling, special needs or infant/toddlerness. One of the astonishing things about them is how they blow a lot of work-at-home mothers out of the water on the support network front.
Self-publishing SAHMs have childcare so they can write. Either they pay for it, get a relative to watch the kids a few times a week or they talk to their husbands about taking the kids so they can write 2 or 3 hours a night. This is a baffling thing full-time work-at-home people rarely do. They seem to think if you’re at home working the kid(s) will just realize this and let you work, even if they’re infants or toddlers.
This means they reliably write 10-20 hours per week, a true part-time job that can be integrated into their general household management and not cause friction. And they also pace themselves, they never plan more work than they can reasonably produce on a set, consistent, frequent schedule. They just work to market whatever length of writing that schedule produces. And it works. Because this self-selecting, wonderfully sensible pool of women does not bite off more than they can chew, they sell thousands of copies a month of short stories, novellas and novels apiece and make anywhere from a couple thousand dollars a month for their time to ten thousand or more per month.
At first I thought it was just one or two women, but as I’ve looked at the people who admit to self-publishing and discuss their background, I’ve found it’s a common theme with the SAHMs who are making a go of it.
What a wonderful discovery.
Hyperlocal and other local journalism must be considered a paid hobby, not a wealth vehicle or a guarantee of a secure job with benefits. It’s a gap that needs to be filled, but the current problem is that people believe it can be a full time job with benefits, but there’s just not that much money. Some partnerships or just plain asking for cash from local businesses and it would be possible to put together a quality pool of writers and editors with small beats at the town or neighborhood level who could provide decent news writeups of local goings-on in their communities. It would be a paid hobby, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with paid hobbies and bringing back the compensated amateur is another tool in restoring normal life.