I’ve been meaning to get around to writing about this-oh, hold on…
::goes to pack books to get ready to move in two weeks::
As I was saying…oh…hold that thought…
::goes to stand in sister’s wedding…::
So, yeah, this Fireside Fiction Report about black writers and–ughhhh…dang it…
::goes to handle a crazy thingamajig at work::
SIGH WOULD LIFE JUST STOP BEING SO GOSH DARN BUSY FOR ONCE SO I CAN DO THIS STUPID BLOG POST?
I’m busy. Like really busy.
Obviously I don’t speak for all black writers, but I can tell you why I haven’t been submitting. The past two years I’ve been coping with longer hours at work, and other stuff. but you know that. It’s wasn’t until this year that I finally got off my duff and started submitting again. For me, the biggest reason I don’t submit is time.
Oh, I can do the writing. That’s no problem. That whole time I was not submitting, I was writing. I worked on my novel…and then from last November I took a break to write a novella totally by accident (no, really. I was aiming for short story and I made a novella instead. How did that even happen?). And then I submitted it.
Granted, it wasn’t something that happened within a week. The novella, from creation to submission, took about 9 months.
There was an article not too long ago from a writer who wrote her first novel, then promptly went broke. I had meant to share it on Facebook because I was like yeah! I also want someone to pay me to write on a full-time basis. But then I did some thinking and realized…actually…wouldn’t that happen anyway? I write, I submit, I get paid. Write. Rinse. Repeat. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. And if a writer really wants to be paid to write, there’s Patreon, which a lot of writers are doing now. But even with Patreon, you still need to show some sort of output. So, yeah, sorry, Tierce, actually you can get paid to write. You just need to put in the work. And that doesn’t mean quitting your day job first. Now, yes, I do wish I have time so that I could write more, but if I want that to happen, I need to start laying the groundwork for that now. Which means treating writing seriously, and pulling the bits of time I do have together to focus on writing.
Tierce did have a point where she said that her dayjob took away her headspace for writing. That there were days where she felt less of a writer and more of a postal worker. Yeah, there were many times when I felt that way too. But that was where planning my writing day came in. I learned how to write in between the cracks of my dayjob: breaks, lunch, etc. Scribbling thoughts on a notepad, my phone. Learning how to write anywhere—in the car, waiting for dinner to cook. I stopped beating myself up for only writing things for five, ten minutes at a time. It all still counted towards my output anyway. And sometimes, those brief minutes primed the pump for longer periods of writing in the evening. Slowly, gradually, I began to really feel like I was a writer again. (Of course, not going on social media so much also helped.)
But back to the Fireside Report. The whole reason I’m writing this post…Look, I’m going to be straight up honest. I’m not really dwelling on it all that much.
That doesn’t mean it’s not true, nor that it isn’t pertinent. I’m very much aware of how the markets are. I’m aware of the statistics. But responding to a report like that takes time, and frankly, I don’t have time.
And perhaps that’s one of the symptoms in the report. Not many black writers have oodles of time at their disposal. If I’m going to fight against the conditions that are outlined in that report, the best way for me to use that time is write. So that’s what I’m going to do.
I want to write and submit more. I want to get some more stories under my belt, but what I really, really, really want to do is finish my novel. So..here’s what I’ll do.
This month there’s a couple of writing pieces I want to finish. A couple of things I promised some people. I also plan to re-establish myself in the novel. And then, starting November 1, I will focus exclusively on getting this revision of the novel finished. I’m about 60% done with revisions in the current draft. I’ll give myself to the end of April 2017 to finish this draft. That’s six months.
You realize, in telling you all this, I want you all to hold me accountable, right?
Because that’s the other thing I fight against when it comes to submissions. Thinking that my work isn’t good enough. Nisi Shawl wrote an *excellent* essay called “Unqualified” in the January 2015 issue of The Cascadia Subduction Zone that I think is a great reply to the Fireside Report, and it sums up my own feelings as well. Encouragement helps. Fighting for diversity helps. And creating a space for black writers like me really, really helps. Go read Nisi’s essay. It’s that good.
I don’t think I’m ready to do a Patreon this year. I’m still dealing with dayjob stuff that promises to lighten up within the next year. (I know, that was promised to me last year…oh well). There’s also the matter of buying a house (ha! See? When I started this blog post, we were just starting to pack and now, voila, we sold our house). But I’ll continue writing. I’ll do my part to get more stories under my belt. And next year, I’ll revisit the Patreon idea.
In the meantime…I got a book to finish.