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Authors: What do you do for a crust?

KimLittle
Updated:

"Simple! I don't wash my underwear."

Ewwwwww....

Seriously though, having come now just out of a season of my day job taking over my life so that I couldn't spare the 2-3 hours I needed to actually continue my current (and first) story on SOL, I find myself wondering two things:

a) What do you do for a day job?

b) How do you fit writing time around that job?

I realise that Stephen King (in 'On Writing') will sprout lines of Grade-A 100% Organic Bullshyte™ like "If you're really a writer, you'll make the time" but then again he can say that now since he swims in a monogrammed money bin filled with airport-novel-best-seller-automatic-nine-reprint-I-killed-a-hooker-no-problem-cash-money. As I recall, he was a high-level alcoholic and his wife didn't leave him, so his predilection for escaping to the laundry of their trailer with a typewriter balanced on his knees was probably preferable for her as opposed to another sixer of whatever pisswater he was swilling.

I spend my days as an educator (of what level and area I shall withhold), and after another 12 hour work day I do feel it selfish to sit at my laptop for another 2-3 hours to write when there's a family that deserves some facetime with moi.

I write when I can - I am often plotting/writing/rewriting in my head but I need 2-3 hours in a chunk to write a chapter and the same again to really try and edit it properly.

And you?

Ernest Bywater

@KimLittle

I'm retired, but most of my work for the last couple of decades of work was writing the specialized fiction known as Government Financial Reports

Replies:   richardshagrin
Dominions Son

@KimLittle

a) IT (specifically application programming) but I don't work for a big software house, I work for a consulting company that does custom work for corporate clients, mostly utilities. Until a couple of years ago, I worked in the IT department of an Electric utility

B) I work from home full time and I have some control over my hours. Boss doesn't care if I break up my day as long as the work gets done and the billable hours recorded. So I can write when the muse strikes.

G Younger

A) I own a real estate company.

B) I'm the boss...

graybyrd

I'm retired...

My wife is the boss.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@graybyrd

I'm retired...

My wife is the boss.


Bet she was also the real boss before you retired.

Bondi Beach
Updated:

@KimLittle


I realise that Stephen King (in 'On Writing') will sprout lines of Grade-A 100% Organic Bullshyte™ like "If you're really a writer, you'll make the time" but then again he can say that now since he swims in a monogrammed money bin filled with airport-novel-best-seller-automatic-nine-reprint-I-killed-a-hooker-no-problem-cash-money. As I recall, he was a high-level alcoholic and his wife didn't leave him, so his predilection for escaping to the laundry of their trailer with a typewriter balanced on his knees was probably preferable for her as opposed to another sixer of whatever pisswater he was swilling.


Whatever one's opinion of the quality of his writing---I think King has always acknowledged, with pride, that he's sort of middle-brow---I imagine he'd have the same reply James Patterson (who is up around 2.5 bazillion books sold) made to a critic or other author who criticized his work: "How many books has he sold?"

Yeah, yeah, we all know that's not the only measure of success or quality.

That said, in fairness to old Stephen, he claims to have worked some pretty crappy jobs in the beginning and wrote at lunch or after work or whenever. So, yeah, "make time to write" is kind of like saying, "if you want to lose the weight just lose it," and about as useful. In King's case, however, he did it before he made his first gazillion sales.

I thought On Writing was very useful and, equally important for me, very funny. The writing advice was pretty generic, no question, but his retelling of his early years very engaging.

bb

Capt Zapp

I'm my own boss.

It's not that I don't have time, it's either not having ideas or too many stray ones!

oyster50

Electrical subject matter expert for a major pipeline.

Sometimes I write when I'm far from home in one of the five (sometimes more) states that I cover across the South.

Quite often I go over and come up with story ideas while driving. Eleven hours behind the wheel with an iPod's worth of good music allows the mind to wonder.

O

Crumbly Writer

In my case, I'm lucky (???) in that I'm disabled, exist on a set income which isn't taxable, and I can earn up to $25,000 a year on my writing before I ever have to bother filing a income tax report on it.

However, with little else to do with my time, writing gives definition to my life.

In fairness to Mr. King, I've noticed that writing regularly is essential, in that it keeps your writing 'fresh'. Whenever I don't do creative writing--say while I'm editing my book--the changes I make to the story sound forced and awkward. Simply writing notes, shopping lists and ditties seems to be enough to maintain your writing skills. Otherwise, it'll often take 3 months to get back into writing.

Even now, I've seen sick with the flu for the past week, and I'm already having trouble writing from being away from it for so long.

That doesn't really answer you question, but it again emphasizes the 'just write', even if it's utter crap. It doesn't matter whether you keep any of it. It's the practice that counts. A decent alternative is to sit with an open notebook and writing observations of the people you encounter--like artists making sketches in the park. You may never use those bits, but then again, if you need a character for a story, you can always draw on all those notes to flesh them out with some real-world details.

I'd also suggest that, if you're spending all day typing on a computer, that you don't jump on another to write. Instead, I'd suggest you write freehand. It's different enough, and it'll force you to transition from 'work' to 'creative thought about writing'. It's also much slower, but if you aren't writing much either way, I'm guessing it'll get you back into writing a little sooner.

Hope that helps, though I suspect you'll find it as useful as 'just make the time, damn it!'.

shinerdrinker

@Crumbly Writer

Ditto on the disability front.

But since I'm still working on my first story for public consumption, I'm not yet ready to worry about selling anything I write.

That and I occasionally do a little graphic design for friends for quick cash under the table. Hey Shiner is kind of expensive and I do have a name to live up to.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I'd also suggest that, if you're spending all day typing on a computer, that you don't jump on another to write. Instead, I'd suggest you write freehand.


Alas, I never could master penmanship. Even block printing, my hand writing is so bad I can barely read it myself. I barely managed to master just enough cursive writing to sign my own name.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Alas, I never could master penmanship. Even block printing, my hand writing is so bad I can barely read it myself. I barely managed to master just enough cursive writing to sign my own name.

For decades, an earlier generation of authors championed how much stronger hand-written sentences are than those typed on a computer. According to them, when you slow down, you consider how the words work together, instead of focusing on the next sentence. The result is, you tend to do more composing in your mind, and more readily recognize when something doesn't work.

If you're having trouble getting back into writing, that might give you the additional distance from your daily life you need. Or not! As usual, results vary for every author.

Switch Blayde

@KimLittle

I retired early, over 12 years ago. Before that I ran a worldwide Data organization for a Fortune 50 company, you know, responsible for the database design, security, backup/recovery, performance, data standardization, etc. Mostly on mainframes, IMS and then DB2. After the company's downsizing where they got rid of over 100 of 113 VPs and Directors, I mostly managed groups that did Data Warehousing on client/server platforms. But I was never happy doing that so that's why I retired young.

So I have all the time in the world to write, and I used to write a lot. But lately I don't enjoy it as much so I don't write as much. My wife will be retiring this September so I'll see if I'll have less time or more time. I built a new house with a studio for her to do her fused glass art. I got a feeling she's going to be busy doing that which will give me plenty of time to write or do something else, like Candy Crush and FreeCell LOL.

richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

When the GOVERNMENT reports it, by definition it has to be true. The GOVERNMENT never lies. All they have to do is pass a law and it becomes the truth. It may be specialized non-fiction that looks like fiction to rational people, but there are very few rational people who are willing to admit the GOVERNMENT is wrong.

Put another way,
Rule one, the GOVERNMENT is always right.
Rule two, if the GOVERNMENT is wrong, see rule one above.

On the other hand, if its not your GOVERNMENT, you can believe it's wrong. Just don't say so loudly enough the people in that country can hear you.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

What the fuck have you been smoking?

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Dominions Son

What the fuck have you been smoking?


Out here in the mountain west we call it "loco weed."

Bondi Beach

@Crumbly Writer

For decades, an earlier generation of authors championed how much stronger hand-written sentences are than those typed on a computer. According to them, when you slow down, you consider how the words work together, instead of focusing on the next sentence. The result is, you tend to do more composing in your mind, and more readily recognize when something doesn't work.


Hahahaha. I think that idea is very funny.

Indeed, results vary. It's certainly not my experience. I've written and continue to write both ways, and I seem to spend an equal amount of time on paper or on the screen (a) thinking about the next sentence and (b) revising what I've already written.

If you do it tha NaNoWriMo way there's no looking back, ever. There. Will. Be. No. Editing.* I think they make you sign a pledge, and they probably have someone looking in your window to make sure you comply.

*Until after November 30th, of course. Duh.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

If you do it tha NaNoWriMo way there's no looking back, ever. There. Will. Be. No. Editing.* I think they make you sign a pledge, and they probably have someone looking in your window to make sure you comply.

Thanks. You've convinced me to never submit anything to NaNoWriMo. I find asking for advice on two sentences out of a novel of several thousand, because authors are SO hypercritical. That's like asking someone to pose naked in front of 1,000, fully dressed supermodels!

Replies:   graybyrd
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

According to them, when you slow down, you consider how the words work together, instead of focusing on the next sentence. The result is, you tend to do more composing in your mind, and more readily recognize when something doesn't work.


For me personally, I tend to focus more on the physical act of writing, and even doing that I still can't write legibly.

What good would it do me to try to hand write a story if I can't read 3/4ths of it two days later.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
graybyrd

@Crumbly Writer

You've convinced me to never submit anything to NaNoWriMo.


Ummmm ... CW. Y'all do not submit anything to NaNo. All you submit is a word count. It's an honor system. Now iffen y'all can't count words conveniently, there is a mechanism whereby you dump yer verbiage into their hopper and like a coin counter at the Super Market, it counts yer words and spits a report back atcha. The sludge you dumped in oozes out the bottom of the digital machine and flows away, ne'er to be seen again. No human eyeball ever touches yer stuff. Never, ever.

So, you see, the 'contest' if one chooses to see it that way, is purely with yerself. And yer the ownliest one ever to see, taste, smell, or choke on whatever words you pour forth as a participant. It all lives on yer own Big Nickel tablet, yer hard drive, or yer memory stick. It never leaves home without yourself lettin' it off the leash.

Feel better now?

Dominions Son

@graybyrd

It all lives on yer own Big Nickel tablet, yer hard drive, or yer memory stick.


I am pretty sure you didn't intend it that way, and it's probably just my sick mind, but I looked at that and saw sexual innuendo.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd
Updated:

@Dominions Son


I looked at that and saw sexual innuendo.


So yer sick, 'n yer a troll. Or ya got one helluva an overworked imagination!

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

What good would it do me to try to hand write a story if I can't read 3/4ths of it two days later.

I wasn't suggesting it as tool for everyone, simply listing it as an alternative in this one case where she had trouble sitting in front of a computer after having already spent all day doing the same thing. It's difficult breaking the one mindset to 'just right'.

@gaybyrd (regarding NaNoWriMo)

Feel better now?

Much! Thanks for the clarification.

Wheezer
Updated:

Disability retired here (COPD) so I have plenty of time to write. Problem is that my Muse is a fickle bitch. That's why I only have two completed short stories on SOL and a dozen or so story outlines/first chapters in my 'Writings & Ramblings' documents folder. I spend my days reading new stories from SOL that interest me and looking for good (and cheap or free) Fantasy/Sci-Fi e-books on Amazon.

Ernest Bywater

@KimLittle

you start with these:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons cold water*

and do this:

COMBINE flour and salt in medium bowl; cut in vegetable shortening with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle with water; blend until mixture holds together.

SHAPE dough into ball; place on lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Line pie plate with pastry. Turn edge under; crimp as desired.

for a good crust.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

for a good crust.

Or, you have a teenage son, in which case much of your laundry has a regular 'crust' on it.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Or, you have a teenage son, in which case much of your laundry has a regular 'crust' on it.


buy 'em wash 'n' wear gear and have them wear it in the shower every few days, that washes the gear and saves the machine.

Capt Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

Or, you have a teenage son, in which case much of your laundry has a regular 'crust' on it.


Which is exactly why I am teaching my almost-a-teen son how to do the laundry!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Capt Zapp

Which is exactly why I am teaching my almost-a-teen son how to do the laundry!


I had a friend who dread how her teen sons were going to affect the laundry and the household budget when they started growth spurts in high school (starts and year 7 hear). At the time the teen fashion was camos, so I took her down to the local Disposal store and showed her a nice range of surplus BDUs that were totally wash and wear (unlike some older style denim and cotton ones). She saved a fortune on the price, they were easy to wash, and the boys were happy to have the latest in fashions. They never twigged that theirs weren't fashion label stuff like a lot of their high school friends wore.

Joe_Bondi_Beach

@graybyrd

Ummmm ... CW. Y'all do not submit anything to NaNo. All you submit is a word count. It's an honor system. Now iffen y'all can't count words conveniently, there is a mechanism whereby you dump yer verbiage into their hopper and like a coin counter at the Super Market, it counts yer words and spits a report back atcha. The sludge you dumped in oozes out the bottom of the digital machine and flows away, ne'er to be seen again. No human eyeball ever touches yer stuff. Never, ever.

So, you see, the 'contest' if one chooses to see it that way, is purely with yerself. And yer the ownliest one ever to see, taste, smell, or choke on whatever words you pour forth as a participant. It all lives on yer own Big Nickel tablet, yer hard drive, or yer memory stick. It never leaves home without yourself lettin' it off the leash.

Feel better now?


Precisely. If you're feeling frisky you can post pieces of your writing on your NaNoWriMo page and let other people comment. Some do post, although honestly it sounds insane to me.

If it weren't for the laughter from them, I'd be up for being naked in front of 1,000 clothed supermodels. (Are there 1,000?) As long as Charlize Theron is one of them, even if she's not a supermodel.

bb

Bondi Beach

@graybyrd

So yer sick, 'n yer a troll. Or ya got one helluva an overworked imagination!


I've always thought those were requirements for writers.

bb

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Bondi Beach

I've always thought those were requirements for writers.


Thats a loverly pitcher: a troll with diseased mind 'n a overactive sex drive, pounding on dem keys. Cacklin' 'n snarfin' 'n wankin' away all over dem pages. Fit to publish on SOL, it are, by gum.

Thanks fer dat!

Replies:   Joe_Bondi_Beach
KimLittle

I love how many opinions people have about Stephen King's book!

To be honest, I did really enjoy it, but I feel that a bit of the advice is easy to dish out from his perspective (since he is so damn successful and all). And I understand his experiences of working the hard yards. And grading and correcting - ugh...

I do have a notebook I take when travelling and various vignettes get written down and then typed up when I return home. Sometimes these make their way into a work, sometimes they don't. I don't find that I necessarily write better work by longhand but I do find that when I put it into the computer I can't help but edit it. Then when I go back to do the final edits/proof-reading those bits are no problem, because I've re-written whilst typing it up.

Does make me feel more like a 'pro' though, sitting in the hotel coffee shop and scribbling away...

Joe_Bondi_Beach
Updated:

@graybyrd


Thats a loverly pitcher: a troll with diseased mind 'n a overactive sex drive, pounding on dem keys. Cacklin' 'n snarfin' 'n wankin' away all over dem pages. Fit to publish on SOL, it are, by gum.


On days when my snark meter is topping out I think the standard you outline should be made a required baseline for posting at SOL.

EDIT: Or, of course, you could just go read Phil Phantom ...

On other days I'm a really nice guy.

bb

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@Joe_Bondi_Beach

EDIT: Or, of course, you could just go read Phil Phantom ...

On other days I'm a really nice guy.


A tip o'me hat to yer, sirrah! And I'll be meetin' ya over at Phil's Place. I'll bring some brew; would ya kindly be bringin' some bangers wid ya fer the pot.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@graybyrd

A tip o'me hat to yer, sirrah! And I'll be meetin' ya over at Phil's Place. I'll bring some brew; would ya kindly be bringin' some bangers wid ya fer the pot.


Thank you kindly.* I'm all in favor of bangin' 'er. There's a code for that, right?

bb

*Hank Worden AKA "Old Mose" in The Searchers.

Kid Wigger

I love wrting. In fact, I'm addicted to writing.

I have a big, ground stacked PA system and provide audio production services. I also do second engineer audio work with a friend of mine who has a system bigger than mine when he needs help and my system isn't booked.

When I take out my system, I usually do the front-of-house mix for music festivals, weekly summer in-the-park concerts, corporate employee parties, meet the candidates nights, and things like that. My doing bar bands is long over; they can't afford my pricing structure.

The work is mostly seasonal. Even the day of a show I can usually squeeze in two or three hours writing. Doing one to two shows a week in the summer, I can, in a three to four week cycle, I write between 25,000 to 37,000 words. Fewer shows, more writing.

However, this afternoon going up to check the mail, I found the first morel mushroom of the season, so I guess my daily walks will include a lot of looking down as I walk through the woods and a little less writing.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Perv Otaku

My first story I wrote almost exclusively while on airplanes (generally business trips four times a year), on the theory that it was the only place I was with my laptop but without internet. This meant it took a long time to write, but I was in no particular hurry.

After that was actually finished and published, I decided I didn't want to be a one-hit-wonder and should do more stories, and with a release schedule that wouldn't leave people wondering if I'd died. Lately I've been pretty good at enforcing an average of an hour per week of work (writing or proofreading), plus those airplane trips.

Lostlady

@KimLittle

Given the fact that I write only as a hobby and the nature of most of my short stories (stroke) I wasn't sure I'm qualified to address a serious topic like this, but since this advice was passed on to me by a friend who did manage to get published commercially I thought it might be worth repeating here. He stated creative writing is like a religion, it's something that's in you. And like all religions there are different levels of dedication; some go the church occasionally, others regularly. Some go further and become elders and deacon, and some study for the ministry/priesthood. And yet others join monasteries or go off into the wilderness living a life of sackcloth and ashes to suffer for their art. No one way is right for everybody. Part time writers have had success and great novels have been written in the wilderness and died there for lack of a sponsor. As far as the time we spend, that all depends on how much we're willing to risk on a gamble. It's an individual thing. On a lighter note, remember Chevy Chase in "Funny Farm"; the professional sports writer who couldn't get his novel started while his wife had a hit with a children's book. I hope this was relevant.

Crumbly Writer

@Kid Wigger

However, this afternoon going up to check the mail, I found the first morel mushroom of the season, so I guess my daily walks will include a lot of looking down as I walk through the woods and a little less writing.

If you spend your time writing outdoors, eventually the mushrooms will start to grow under you (along with all the other fungi). 'D

Replies:   vanceonline
QM

I'm currently a lift (elevator) technician in New Zealand. I write during my dinner break and occasionally on an evening.

Can't say I care much for Stephen King novels or stories.

vanceonline

@Crumbly Writer

I've connected a nicely padded leather sling from a fancy equipment bag to both hinges of the Acer with small Velcro straps so it hang down near my stomach, with the mouse in the big front pocker of my cargo pants to use if I needed, I'm able to walk around outside and type as long as I crank the contrast on the screen to compensate for sunlight. That way no fungi beneath my moving feet!

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@vanceonline

We'll overlook that angry red, swollen lump on yer forehead from walkin' into trees & lampposts whilst yer pacin' along, lookin' down 'n typin' on yer keyboard!

(grin)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@graybyrd

We'll overlook that angry red, swollen lump on yer forehead from walkin' into trees & lampposts whilst yer pacin' along, lookin' down 'n typin' on yer keyboard!

Or the terrible stories that result from concentrating on walking rather than story content. 'D

Replies:   vanceonline
Banadin

I have spent over fifty years in the field of Quality Assurance. Currently I perform audits to the ISO standards. Writing fiction is a wonderful release from those dreary reports.

vanceonline

@Crumbly Writer

Lately it's only been one terrible story that is also terribly long--Code Monkey.

Replies:   graybyrd
graybyrd

@vanceonline

Code Monkey, the character. Rather than a terrible story (not so) and terribly long (yes, so?), I've come to enjoy it greatly as the world's slowest-paced cliff hanger! While the plot moves glacially along, the content is unusually rich. That's a rare achievement.

Replies:   vanceonline
vanceonline

@graybyrd

Thank you. It has been brewing since 1988.

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