Monday Musings: Laboring Day
And 3…2…1…We’re Back! No more reruns, at least for a little while. For those who kept reading, good for you. Those who didn’t just suck.
Anyway, it’s Labor Day and since I don’t feel like a Labor Day story excerpt, let’s talk about laboring. When I started writing this story, I was kind of excited. As time went by, though, I lost momentum. By the end I was just glad to get it finished and move on.
What happened? Motivation. In this case, I started losing commitment to the idea. In large part the thought hit me, “Who am I doing this for?” At first I naively thought I’d write it for my niece or any future nephews. Then I got thinking, “She’s a girl; she doesn’t want to read a Star Trek-like story!” Plus I had my doubts that anyone outside my family would want to read it.
So at that point I began losing the momentum. It became a struggle to get through it, even though it was just 60,000 words.
Back in July I was reading “Dracula” for the first time and in the introduction Peter Straub notes that it was Stoker’s best book because he spent six years working on it. The rest of the time Stoker wrote his books in just a couple of months while the theater he worked for was off. So at least according to Straub, Stoker’s extra commitment made the book better. (Though it didn’t really succeed commercially, at least not until the movie came out about 35 years later.)
Whenever I read about an author spending six years on a book, or 10 years as some like Jeffrey Eugenides have done, I think, “What the hell were you DOING all that time?” I could see where you might spend a year or two doing the research—especially back in the 1890s when you didn’t have Google and Wikipedia—and if it’s 2,600 pages like George RR Martin it might take a while to write, but six years? It’s hard for me to imagine spending that long on anything, because I think after a while I’d start thinking, “What the hell am I doing this for?”
Then again I’m a measure once kind of person. Or “desperate” as Straub described, referring to people who put out 3-4 books a year.
Which maybe is why I’m not a successful author yet! (Or ever.) You need commitment to be great or even just to get through a story. Otherwise every day is Labor Day on it.
A riddle: What do Stan Lee, Al Kaline, and The Decemberists all have in common? They’re all mentioned in Wednesday’s entry!