Writing the Z&TG stories is way harder than I thought it would be. The first two or three basically wrote themselves. It was new and exciting for me. These days, it feels a lot like work except I’m not getting paid. I don’t know that I’ll ever make a single dollar doing this, which makes it even harder to stay motivated.
Getting the tone right in a short story is exponentially harder that it was when Z&TG was just short snippets of conversation I posted on FB. Those didn’t have to be very long. They didn’t have to be thematically connected. I could just barf out eight lines of dialogue and call it a day.
I know my stories don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be good. They have to satisfy me or they don’t stand a chance of satisfying you. I now understand what all my favourite writers mean when they say how hard writing is. It’s super hard; maybe the hardest thing I’ve tried. There’s no measuring stick that informs me how good of a job I’m doing other than my inner voice saying, “Yup…that works” or – more frequently – “That. Is. Awful”. There’s nobody else “in the band” to get creative input from. It’s just me, my ridiculously underpowered brain, and this laptop.
The only other thing I’ve done that compares is writing songs, but I find that easier. It’s patterns and repetition and a quantifiable rhythm. Once you have a good hook, you can build it out with a couple of other sections (verse/chorus/bridge), then repeat sections for four minutes. Writing a symphony is probably closer to writing stories, but since I’ve never written a symphony I can’t be certain.
Perhaps running is a better comparison? All of us can run the first 500 metres or so. We’re fresh, we’re excited, and it feels like if we can stay motivated, a marathon isn’t that far away. It’s do-able. There’s a defined distance. You’ll know when you’re done.
I’ll never know when I’m done*1It’ll be an educated guess at best., and I’m currently sitting on my arse at metre 501 wondering what the hell made me think this was a good idea. I’ll never be Stuart McLean or Kurt Vonnegut.
I’d get a job, but the results of my efforts so far makes it clear I’m not even capable of writing a good resumé.
The only thing that’s keeping me going is the knowledge that I don’t want to ride transit every day to get to a cubicle in an anonymous office tower to put in 8 hours a day with a bunch of other people who hate their jobs as much as I do. That’s no way to live.
So I guess I’ll keep hammering away, hoping beyond hope that 10% of the words I write are good enough to appeal to somebody with a few dollars of disposable income to spend on the stories of a guy and his talking dog.
PS: It took 15 minutes to write this post. It’s 500 words long. If I could manage that with the Z&TG stories everyday, I’d have three stories a month. So what’s the problem? It’s extremely vexing.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↑||It’ll be an educated guess at best.|