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Look, Ma, No Hands! Your Novel in 13 Weeks. Week Nine.

by
Sarah Hoyt

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May 14, 2013 - 2:00 pm
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Always remember to wear a safety helmet while writing.

This week has been very bad for writing.  By now I hoped to be twenty five thousand words in.  I’m not.

If you keep in mind that when pushed and under the gun — such as when I got an invitation for an anthology and had an afternoon in which to deliver – I can and have written eleven thousand words in three hours, it seems as though there could be no possible excuse.  And there isn’t.

I can give you all the reasons for why I’m not further advanced than the first few pages of the novel.

First, my time has been horribly cut up.  But then, when isn’t it?  Mostly I write in the intervals between cooking, cleaning, shopping for groceries, helping my sons with whatever project needs help, helping my friends with whatever project needs help, looking over page proofs, editing, running promotions on my self-published stuff, keeping track of the labyrinthine tax and business law affecting small businesses, getting exasperated at the news, and trying to get in at least an hour of physical exercise. Sometimes it’s a miracle I write at all.

A lot could be said about women and women’s role in a family, and how much I do, and not prioritizing my profession over the day to day of family routine.  Most of it would be wrong.

I know for a fact, from talking to my male writer friends, that the ones who stayed home to write – i.e., were lucky enough to have a wife who could support them – faced the same pressures as any woman.  It’s not a sexist thing, but an example of trying to make it in a field that very rarely pays and even more rarely pays well.

In my long, long apprenticeship (thirteen years before selling my first short story, but keep in mind that for a lot of that time I was barely writing, and rarely submitting because of this process), when it seemed highly unlikely I would ever sell, if the choice was between writing a new chapter or really cleaning the kitchen, a spit-shine (only not literally, because yuck) of the kitchen always won out. The kitchen, after all, affected other people now. Writing another chapter of the novel merely fractionally increased the chances of my selling a novel; and since those chances were minimal to begin with, to write or not to write was not a question.

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The story I've been poking at has foundered on the relationship between two of the main characters. I know how it ends, but I don't know how it starts.

Where do you go to find out what a normal relationship looks like, when you haven't had one?
1 year ago
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