In the brave new world of self e-publishing the greatest crime seems to be standing still. You gotta publish, publish, publish, whack out those short stories/novellas/serials/novels, wear your fingers to the bone and simply grind the little beggers out on the trusty word-mill – one a month, one every two months, one every three months maximum. Productivity has to be at full capacity for the duration, and then you gotta plug, plug, plug, market, market, market the results 24/7 until you make people sit up and listen. Then, before they can breathe, you gotta hit them again and again, until they finally give in and start to bond with you like an abductee with their kidnapper...
That’s one of the prevailing theories, anyway. It seems to work for some people, too, but probably not for me − although I might have a go if I thought I could do it. The most prominent reason I think I couldn’t is no great mystery, of course – it’s all down to that magic ingredient at the heart of every fictional recipe: Time.
Time, or rather the lack of it, is the bane of the less successful or part-time novelist. When you’re at work, doing the day-job, doing the tedious, mind-blowingly dull stuff that pays some of the bills, what happens to time? I’ll tell you what happens – it crawls. It drags itself around on its bloody stumps, screaming and bellowing in sheer bleeding agony, making sure that not a single solitary second passes without you being crushingly aware of it.
What happens to time when you sit down to write? It flies. It flies like a military fighter cruising at Mach II. Or maybe it’s a little more like a Stealth aircraft, because you never, ever notice it flying by at all, and you only know that it has because when you look up at the clock after working for half an hour or so, you realise that four or five whole hours have zipped by while you were lost in the zone.
It’s tough to juggle all the elements of life if you’re unable to write full-time, as so many of us are. When you have a full-time job to hold down, a house to keep up, and a family to spend time with, writing all too often becomes a luxury pastime, and sometimes a bone of contention with family members who just don’t understand what drives you to write, especially as you make so little money at it.
So, all too often your writing time gets shunted to a late night or an early morning activity slot, generally when you’re almost too exhausted to write effectively, and by the time you’ve managed to force yourself into the zone, your window of opportunity has expired.
Right now I’m proofing and editing a crime-comedy novel for Christmas publication and trying to devise ways to publicise it, retyping a very long horror novel, for which I only have a hard copy, in time for Halloween next year, attempting to restart the sequel to the crime-comedy, attempting to get back into the third instalment of my ‘Perfect’ series of dark crime novels, planning the third and fourth instalments of my Hunted Man crime short series, and… many other things, too, including this blog.
If anyone out there has a time machine they’re not using right now, do you think I could borrow it? I guarantee to get it back to you early last week.