Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time to Kill

Wow! A free topic this week. In what way can I bedevil C.J. this time?

Okay. She’s on vacation with the family, so I’ll let her slide.

Instead, I’ll try to be serious for a change. I think I will talk about taking my game up a notch.

Recently, I moved again.

Stone Mountain in Georgia (that's my house on top)
Initially, I came to Stone Mountain, Georgia from Fort Worth, Texas in December of 2008, looking for a fresh start. During that particular move, I was extremely worried about a lot of things – finding employment, looking for new friends, getting adjusted to a new area after 16 years in Fort Worth and, finally, if I would be able to continue my writing (not knowing if I’d be able to set up my computer to type).

28 months later and I can call the Atlanta experiment a general failure. Even though I did get to do a lot of background work in movies like Lottery Ticket, Life As We Know It and Detroit 1-8-7, the only steady employment I found was a temporary position with the U.S. Census Bureau (ironically, that job actually prevented me from getting a bunch of screen time as a bad guy who takes on Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson in the upcoming Fast Five).

Now, I am in South Carolina with more relatives, but with a definite time limit. Should nothing pan out here, I will continue north to my father’s house in Boston or maybe I’ll stop over with relatives in Baltimore.

Brice Stadium, U. of South Carolina
Again, now that I am in South Carolina, I have the same issues as in Stone Mountain. Which all leads me to the vital question – where does my writing fit into this new situation?

What I mean is what is my ultimate goal for writing and what must I do to get to the next level?

This task is difficult enough for those who have a permanent residence. But, what about those without one? As the economy continues to stumble and finding employment gets more frustrating, where does writing fall into this?

I will admit that writing, for me, is a great stress reliever. However, it is also creating pressure all around to curtail the fiction and concentrate solely on job searching. As you’ve read with C.J., sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough hours in a day to write, edit, design, etc. and, of course, the primary portion of my time must be devoted to job searching.

That old chestnut of devoting an hour a day to writing is, I think, all well and good for the layman. But, add in research time and an hour doesn’t quite cut it. Even more time is necessary to prepare writing to be sent out to potential publishers. And, again, as C.J. can attest, one must find time to do all that is needed to actually get a book to the bookshelves.

Am I reaching a point where I really need to be getting published and not just in e-zines? Is it wise to hold off on trying to get to that next level until my situation is more solid?

Should I be using this free time to throw myself deep into writing while I have the chance (if and when I get a full-time job, I might not have the time to devote to my craft)?

A lot to think about, eh?

What do you guys say?


  1. I say keep writing while you have the chance. Of course you can't forget the mundane task of job hunting. That has to take priority. But while there's free time, grab it while you can. You never know, you may find more success with your writing than job hunting. It doesn't hurt doing both.

  2. I agree with DRC. :D

    When I worked full time, I'd get up an hour earlier and write as much as I could in that hour because I knew I'd be to tired to form sentences after work. I'd stay up late at night to do things like research, blog, and check my email, etc.

    Now that my job has also gone down the drain, I happily spend all my time writing, editing, promoting, etc. The funny thing is I feel like I get less done in a day than I did when I worked and only wrote for an hour. I'm still trying to figure out why that is.

  3. Great post, Greg. Who was it that wrote on the subway as he commuted to work? Was it Tom Clancy? David would probably know. I think he did it in 40-60 minute blocks of time, with lots of interruptions.

    I think talent is waaaaaay overrated. A fiction of one's ego. Just keep writing. That's how you get good, and get noticed. You'll get there, too, as I hope we all will.

    And JD, I've found the same as well. Here I have no kids at home and no real job (I help my husband). I barely keep up with my writing goals. But that's why I have them, to push myself out of complacency.

  4. Hey, guys. I thought I would put in my two cents. I'm firmly on record as having said that I'm simply attempting to see whether I might be a writer after all. There's not too many to catch lightening in the proverbial bottle, but I'm trying to hustle and see what might come of it. If nothing, then so be it. I did see that novel completed and was blessed to have it published. Anything after that is gravy, isn't it?
    Perhaps each one of us needs to sit down and evaluate how far to travel for their dreams. For me, I'm probably going to see what this year brings and then drop the anchor. Notice I didn't say give up, but my hustling days will be over. At least until my kids are grown up.
    Good luck to all of you Wicked Writers out there.


  5. Thanks for the wonderful comments, guys. DRC, I agree with you. I can probably use writing as a break from the mundane job of job hunting.

    J.D., sorry to hear about the job going down the drain, but you're right in that I, too, thought I'd have more time to write. Now, I find I have too much free time. I think maybe we feel more accomplishment at having written something while juggling the various demands of life like jobs, house rearing and child rearing. With just writing, the challenge isn't the same.

    James, keep with it. Even when you drop anchor, you can still take an hour a day for 4-5 days a week and type something. I think that would be much easier than saying, years from now, "I wish..."

  6. Hi Greg,
    When I worked full-time, I squeezed my writing into a 3-day weekend...after laundry, housecleaning, doing the bills, paying attention to husband and family, etc. I was able most weekends to set aside one full day to disappear into my writing. With retirement and a secure income, I find I am less structured and must discipline myself around my writing.

    Whenever I wasn't working(or suffering from burnout) and had to worry about a job, income, etc, it was next to impossible to focus on my writing...I hope that is not the case for you and that you are able to combine job hunting, living with family and writing without losing sight of your goals and the energy to pursue them.

  7. I love my writing so much, the idea of giving it up or not doing it at all because of life makes me sick to my stomach. I lose sleep, forget to eat, and even go a day or two forgetting to shower because I have the thought of just "Ten more minutes...ten more minutes" When I worked full time then came home to be a full time Mom, I would write when my husband was cooking dinner. I would also wake up early (sometimes) like J.D. does. I didn't have a set schedule of when I wrote -- and I still don't. I write when I can. Somedays my son let's me write in the morning, other days it the afternoon. Somedays I don't get to write until well after he's in bed.

    I will always find a way to do it. I think I would die if I didn't.