Friday, March 4, 2016

Being A Writer, The First Month


For so long, being a writer was my dream job. For years, I tried to convince my wife to let me stay home and write. But what happened when she actually said yes? I felt like a kid whose parents finally allowed me to have a sleepover, but I didn’t have any friends.


On my first day as a writer, I burned my old work shirts. Despite the fact that the shirts were tattered and worn at the elbow, burning them may have been a bit excessive. Perhaps the same childish part of me that enjoyed playing with fire was the part that sparked my interest in telling stories.

In the weeks leading up to me leaving my paid job, I realized that I didn’t have some cache of unpublished stories set aside waiting for me to unleash to the world. That is my only regret to joining the writing world. I wasn’t that disciplined as a writer before leaving my job. I would have short spurts where I wrote after the kids went to sleep, but often times I woke up on the couch in the middle of the night, my computer on my lap.
In an attempt to counteract my previous lack of production, I decided to take on a pretty hefty challenge, write a story a day for an entire month. My thought was that, like my college years, all that I needed was a deadline. And to keep myself honest, I started gathering a list of people to email my first drafts. I honestly didn't really care if people read my work everyday. If I got feedback, I shelved it for when I could actually go back and rework the stories. While I didn't actually achieve thirty stories, I don't consider the month a failure. 
There were several things that I learned from that month. First, it takes time to truly flesh out a story. There are rare times when a story flows out of you, coming out as a tube that you simply have to unroll. I started the month with a list of generic story ideas such as: Zombie P.O.V., The Free Punch and At War With A Rat. I didn't have a complete story idea in mind, but rather a bunch of premises. For the first three days, I came up with complete stories. That weren't short synopses that I planned on filling in later. They were good stories that I was proud of. And much longer than I expected. Although they were good stories, I was submitting them to my list later and later in the day. 
The second thing that I learned was that I have a difficult time writing on the weekends. Weekends are when I spend time with the people that I love the most, my family. For me, writing is a solitary and deeply personal  task. The weekends were when these two things collided. While I was able to write for a few hours in the morning and night, I needed an entire day to mold an idea into a story.
Two of the things that I wrote that month will be in Tangents in Eden Volume 1, but we will get to that later.