September 17th, 2010

if I were me

Writing Anyway

Stephanie Burgis asks (by way of this interview with Sarah Prineas):

"The interviewer asked whether Sarah would keep writing if she knew she would never again be published ...

What do you guys think? If you're writers, how would you answer that question? And if your vocation lies elsewhere, would you give it up if you knew you'd never get a paying job in the field again? I'm really interested to see what you guys think.

I've always maintained I would write anyway.

But differently. Oh, yes, differently! Here's how:

1) I'd never worry about finishing things, unless the end was the thing that inspired me to write (usually it's not, but sometimes it is). So, I'd write the first 20k of dozens of different novels, and write half-born short stories... And I would like it.

2) I'd never rewrite anything. (Almost never. If I did, it would be for items we find in number 3.)

3) I'd probably write more fanfic--but not a whole lot more. (Currently I average 2-3 pieces a year. I'd probably get up to 5-6. Maaaybe 7-10. Depends if I ever found a fandom I felt I could keep up with and enjoy.)

4) I would probably write a lot more id-originated pieces. (Though trust me when I say I already write from my id quite a bit. But I'd write more girl-with-pet-dragon-saves-the-world type things. Oh, yes, I would. Though now that I've said that... I might just write that anyway. Uhm. What was my point? Oh, right. I would probably worry less about clothing for my id. Yeah. There'd be more naked id running around. I try for id-modesty, as a professional.)

So, there you have it: the brutal confession.

All told, I'd prefer to have to clothe my id, rewrite my work, keep my work out of the realm of fanfic, and finish things rather than not get published--the morale boost of being paid for one's work is (for me) much higher than even the validation of a well-received piece of fanfic. (That said, I've never written fic that was tremendously popular, so maybe I'm wrong on that.)

The strictures--having to finish my work, having to rewrite to editorial order--that I would throw off were I never to publish again are not onerous burdens, but they are difficult, and while I don't avoid difficulty as a matter of course, I believe the perceived joy/work ratio is much smaller in rewriting than it is, say, in fooling around with the Orton effect in Photoshop when taking a portrait of my stepdaughter.

What do y'all think?