Monthly Archives: February 2018

Toxic Writing Mentality #amwriting

This week, I’d like to discuss something that festers in the writing community. This is also a problem in other professions and communities, but writing has a certain je ne sais quot about it. Writers are both beloved and reviled, treasured and treated like garbage. It’s an amazing sort of phenomenon to come across people who gush about their favorite writer, then tell you where you can pirate their books. Or then complain violently about how said writer has not yet produced the next book.

Anyway. This isn’t about those people.

This is about how we writerfolk can get swept up in a whirlwind of advice that ruins our lives. It may or may not make our careers flourish. That’s not the point.

Advicegiver 1: Writers write.

Advicegiver 2: If you’re not writing, you’re a failure and might as well not bother.

Advicegiver 3: EVERY DAY. If you don’t write every day, you’ve already lost the game.

Advicegiver 4: You must produce 4 books a year or you’ll never succeed.

Advicegiver 5: [Famous/revered Authorperson] wrote every single day. If you don’t, you’ll never be as good as them.

Which leads to something like this, which I noticed on Twitter the other day:

Haha, that’s funny because it’s true! Not.

There has come to be a strange myth that one cannot write and still have a healthy, otherwise productive life. Which is so bizarre. It’s also toxic. Toxic Writing Mentality is more or less about workaholics and a culture that reveres them.

I expect to publish a total of 12 short stories, 2 novellas, and 3-4 books this year, plus edit two anthologies. A few stories I wrote last year will appear in anthologies releasing this year.

Which sounds like a lot. To be fair, it is a lot. It’s a large quantity of work. I spend a lot of time doing it. But that’s not my whole life.

I have friends, folks. I do things. I’m a parent and my kids aren’t neglected. I take taekwando classes. I go to a gym every week. I read books, go for walks/hikes, ride my bike, make dinner, play video and tabletop games, see movies, work conventions, get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every night, and many other things.

Now, I like to write, so sometimes it’s a challenge to get my butt outta my beanbag. And because there are so many people saying so many of the things listed above (and more), I often feel guilty about getting up. I still do it. I still make time to do it. I saw Black Panther on opening weekend, in fact, and loved it.

All of which is to say that anyone who tells you that you have to sacrifice joy, love, health, family, friends, or your paycheck to be a writer is a jerkface. You don’t. Writing takes time and effort, but it doesn’t need to take ALL your time and ALL your effort.

Be sane, folks. Take breaks. Do things. See things. Talk to people. Never let anyone tell you that your book is more important than your life. Or any other job, for that matter.

I have a theory, backed up by non-scientific data, that many of us in Gen X were so psychologically affected by the label of Slacker that we overcompensate by working too much. Everyone else suffers with us because we’ve created an insane threshold for work-life imbalance that has become the norm.

Anyway. The point is, take some time to do things. Every new experience gives you new stuff for your stories. You’re not a slacker. Don’t act like other people think you are.

Doing Something, Even If It’s Not Much

As of sometime today, this month’s story is, as usual, no longer available for free. If you missed it, The Price of Tea is now available on Amazon and Kobo¬†for $0.99USD.

Honored Sentinel Tester Ikumi Hane has served her country for decades without fail. Her greatest challenge has been the weather and her aging bones. Until now.

Who ever thought one little girl could cause so much trouble?

Want to hear about the monthly stories while they’re still free? Sign up for my newsletter using the handy link above.

It’s challenging to go on with the process of writing stories and trying to sell them while terrible things are happening in the world. Part of me wants to hide under the bed and write about fuzzy things with happy endings until the bad things go away and my friends stop arguing with each other about guns and mental illness.

The rest of me is aware that such behavior doesn’t make anything better. I’m not here to open up a dialogue on difficult subjects, though. Other people are better at it than me, and they’re doing an admirable job.

What I can do is make a few statements that I hope aren’t terribly controversial.

  • It helps no one if we continue to paint mental illness as dangerous. Most mental illnesses do not make people violent.
  • Mental health problems are not shameful.
  • Our culture in the US has serious problems and not enough willingness or courage among our “leaders” to face them.
  • No matter how much we may disagree on something, you and I are not so very different.
  • Nazis are bad.
  • Institutional racism is also bad.
  • Failure is not bad. Not learning from failure is bad. Repeating mistakes and expecting things to turn out differently is also bad.
  • Worrying more about blame than solving problems doesn’t change anything.
  • Consent is good. Enthusiastic consent is even better! Learning the difference requires interacting with other human beings and sometimes making mistakes, and then learning from those mistakes.

Go forth and be excellent, my friends.