I’m not quite ready to take the leap. While I’m not one of those writers who talks a lot about writing – outside of this borderline-narcissistic blog I hurl into the ether each and every day – I do occasionally talk about in in the real world. When someone is a painter or into drawing or to an extent music, these conversations normally follow a ‘what are you working on now’ trajectory, but if you’re a writer, the same question takes all the fun out each and every time, at least for me.
A variation on: “So what are you doing to get published?”
Let me be clear: I dream of living off my writing. At my current pace and assuming I live into my seventies I will write well in excess of two hundred books in my life, and that’s assuming I have to juggle that with full time employment. If I went full time, double that number, at least.I would love nothing more than to grind to become the best damn writer I could be. But, I am also a realist, and I know that making a living in entertainment of any sort is as close to impossible as a real-life job can be. Yes, astronaut is harder but they’re both in the upper 99th percentile of jobs that are hard to get.
But, if you never try you never succeed. So, why am I ‘not quite ready’? In a word: editing. I can now turn out a new novel every 75 days, and I’m only getting faster. I may hate The Wanderer – and edge closer every day to never publishing it in any form – but the numbers don’t lie: I am 18 days into the book and well over 1/4 finished. My average is moving from 1,100 words a day to closer to 1,250 or even higher. It is possible a year from now, 2,000 a day will be the new norm, though of course, only 1,000 is required: I never know when I’ll need to fall back, and it’s better to keep that minimum safety net in tact.
The problem is, that while I can turn out a first draft in 75 days or fewer, it’s a first draft. First drafts are not only bad, they’re awful. If you’re both stupid talented and stupid lucky, perhaps you turn out one decent full length manuscript first try in your late career. We mere mortals have to edit, and while I have no pride of authorship – remember, favourite review opened with ‘Nothing of interest happens in the first three pages…’ – I suck at editing. No that’s not quite it, I suck at making time to edit. Even putting a draft through HemingwayApp which is a start but can only provide robotic not emotive, powerful or compelling edits, seems beyond me most days. And my work suffers for it.
WattPad is a sticky example as I stopped being jazzed for it by the end of Unreachable as a platform and lost engagement that way. Even so, you cannot hide from the statistics: Unreachable swept up a ton of likes for a new author; VOL and WHT, have next to zero engagement or reader retention. Now, TUS also suffers on the retention front, but bear in mind that book needs a ton of editing too. And if I ever want to be published in the mainstream, I have to up my game on those edits. I’m putting out a ton of content, but it’s web-novel tier content, and I am better than that. So how do I make the time to get better here?
The answer is I don’t know. But that’s what I have to tackle next. Nail that, and I might have a chance at that dream after all. 1K is great, but burns up all my motivation each day. So whether it’s by somehow making more motivation, or adding more incentives to edit each day, or selling what’s left of my soul to whatever demonic force isn’t preoccupied destroying the world right now, I gotta think of something.