Jun 112013

Summer provides me with time to write. Once the semester ends, I go into overdrive working on personal projects. Of course, I’d like to be productive all year; however, I’m still learning how to reserve  enough time and energy for my own work while classes are in full swing. Frankly, I’m not sure that will ever happen. Regardless, summer’s here, and I have a nice list of projects lined up. Two of those projects included updating this blog and sprucing up the website.

That didn’t happen for a full month.

Sherman Alexei counsels writers: “Every word on your blog is a word not in your book.” For the most part, I’ve taken that sentiment to heart. But I enjoy the challenge of coming up with concise posts about the craft of writing fiction, compelling literature worth reading, or a combination of the two. While posting regularly remains a goal, I’ve come to understand why many successful writers are so stingy with their time.

This is a recent development for me. But, the more time I set aside to write, the more I become aware of how minutes and hours spin away. And I’ve become a selfish bastard when it comes to time. This summer, I secured a quiet room for writing. As the room has no internet access, the only other potential distraction is my cell phone. I go to the room, and I write or read. While I’m happy to report I’m getting a more done, my work tempo still could use some fine-tuning. (Making it sustainable would be nice too.) Still, the time flies.

Time – always seems to be the enemy.

An example: I begin writing with five hours on the clock then look up stunned to find only thirty minutes remains. Invariably, I feel as though I’ve just hit my stride. Likely, some of this learning how to write more efficiently, but maybe not; maybe, I’ll always be glaring at the clock. Regardless, this feeling of time slipping away reminds me of a cranky, old Harlan Ellison.

On Letters of Note, I was amused to read Harlan Ellison’s crotchety response to a member of his fan club. Ellison is a complete prick to this young fan and begins the letter by saying:

“All a writer has is time and a portion of talent. Answering queries from readers eats away at the former, thus disallowing full use of the latter.”

Ellison then moans about how he hates to be disturbed. Amusingly, he goes on to answer the fan’s question in detail. In my humble opinion, either you can’t be bothered to respond to your mail, or you feel some obligation to do so. But if the latter is true, then do it with class. –That said, Ellison’s words haunt me: time and a portion of talent

The talent I bring to the table is not something I can control, but I need every second I can find to hone what I have. The more I write the more respect I develop for those who have truly mastered the craft. It takes time, discipline, and persistence to improve one’s work. That’s it. Those of us not born with innate genius must fall back on hard work, tenacity, and a fair bit of luck. I’m OK with that.

But, returning to the topic of responding to fans, I found two other responses on that same website related to this topic that I found interesting. (Fair warning, there are loads of terrific letters there, and you can easily burn four of five hours browsing them when you should be writing.)

Apparently, Robert Heinlein had a multiple-choice form letter he used to respond to inquisitive fans. It’s worth a read as the the choices are hilarious.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s this in-depth response from cartoonist, John Kricfalusi, who not only wrote a long letter full of encouragement and advice but even sent back some reading material!

Anyway, I’m headed out to write. While I have more to say here and the exercise of posting is helpful in a number of ways – I’m not sure I posess the time to commit to it.

After all, I have fiction to write.