It's about the work

So as I lay on my couch of pain, recovering from this weekend's fun with abdominal disorders (the Faerie had the stomach flu Friday night, and managed to throw up on me three times, poor thing; I often think the biggest change in your life when you become a parent is that having another person's vomit on you is no longer a big deal but is instead just a minor annoyance, on a par with your socks slipping between your toes--I hate that--but not as bad as a fly in the house. And so of course the hubs and I both came down with it Sunday, and spent all of that day and yesterday huddled on the couch under a blanket while the children turned the living room into some bizarre, disastrous ocean of papers, clothing, and little plastic toys which I do not yet have the energy to tidy) I was thinking about writing. Thinking, not doing, really, although I gathered myself enough last night to make a few edits.

Well, I thought about writing and Johnny Cash, because we finally got around to watching Walk the Line. Pretty good. I've always been a Cash fan, but not a rabid enough one for the inaccuracies of the movie to bug me, so I quite liked it. Although they never played "Flesh and Blood" which I think is one of the most romantic songs ever written.

See how I digress when I'm not feeling well?

Anyway. I was thinking about writing. And hoping my head wouldn't actually crack open. And I started thinking how much there is to worry about, and how little I believe worrying is productive. And how, in fact, I actually sometimes think the amount of worrying a writer does is directly inverse to the amount of effective work they actually do. At least when it comes to some worries.

It's the same with being pleased with success. For example, at this moment I am pleased that Personal Demons is #2 on Fictionwise's Fantasy bestseller list. And is, in fact, #11 on the overall Bestseller list, and #5 on the overall Highest-Rated list. It's gratifying, sure. I mean, I guess it is; that could mean twenty copies have sold or it could mean six hundred have sold, who knows? All it means to me is the title is up on the front page.

And in my opinion, bleary as it is at the moment, that's all that really should matter.

Because it's so easy. It's so easy to start googling yourself on a regular basis and checking your Amazon listing every other minute. Writing is such a solitary business; it's easy to start seeing your success in terms of lists, or, as I've seen happen a lot with those printed by a certain scam publisher whose initials are PA, how many book signings you manage to schedule. Or how many fan letters you get (which, okay, that is seriously exciting, so I'll give you all a pass on that. Not that you need it; why the heck does what I think matter? Take it to heart or don't, it's up to you.)

See, stuff like that? That's trappings. And trappings are fun, sure. But it's easy to get so caught up in the trappings that you forget what's really important, which is the work. I get excited when I finish a scene that went exactly the way I wanted it to go, where not a word is out of place, where I'm absolutely convinced that when it's done the reader will feel exactly what I want them to feel and know exactly what I want them to know, and nothing else. That's what excites me. When I come up with a new way to twist the plot and it adds a whole new dimension to the book, or leads into something I never thought I could reach.

And in my opinion--which, again, is my opinion--that's what it should be about, and it's hard to do that when you're worrying about how much money you'll make or asking everyone and their brother if they think your character should do A or B, or whatever. There's lots of fun little distractions--I know a lot of people who can spend hours "casting" their books, and although I try not to I admit I've dabbled in it once or twice (but only because someone asks, like for a cover.)

But you have to try and tune those distractons out, and focus on the work. Because if the work doesn't appeal to you, and you'd rather play in the other end of the pool, you really ought to consider whether you're really doing what you should be doing.

And that's my grumpy little sick thought for the day.

My tummy still hurts.


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