I was talking to someone yesterday on the concept of non-fiction cannibalizing fiction.
Banish the gruesome image from your mind. Despite my late, great argument with THE non-fiction writer who shall not be named, she didn’t try to take a bite out of me. (She wouldn’t have a chance. I write for Baen and my commenters make shivs out of dictionary covers. No refined place, this According To Hoyt. In fact I think the lady called us barbarians. Or something.)
What I meant though is the extent to which writing blog posts precludes writing fiction. The answer must be… I’m not sure.
When I did the blog tour for Darkship Thieves, non-fiction was a new endeavor. It took me a day to write a thousand word essay, the same it took me for a short story or 10k words on a novel. Sometimes, if the mind was slow, it took me a week. For six months I did nothing but blog tour (I want to book another of those, so if you have a blog and are willing to host it, email me at sahoyt – at- hotmail -dot – com. I should start in early to mid October and carry on through December, at which time I’ll start blogging for A Few Good Men, as well because it comes out in March. If you have a blog and wish to host me, you get to lay restrictions on me or whatever you’d like.) This helped sell Darkship Thieves. It did NOT help my income, though. (Payment is at least a year later by contract and besides, that one has barely earned out now, two and a half years later.) So it was part of the annus horriblis of 5k income.
If I wrote the nonfiction, I couldn’t write fiction all day or, sometimes, for a week.
Clearly I’ve defeated that, since I roll out of bed and write this blog. (Well today involved dealing with kid issues before blogging. And so, I’m scattered and late.)
However, I’ll confess some posts take it out of me, and make it hard to concentrate on fiction. Also, some posts require a lot of energy. I’m postponing one (probably till Saturday) because it will either be a full out rant or… well… in either case, it will require energy.
I remember reading a Shakespeare Scholar who said if he was writing the sonnets while he wrote some play (I think Two Gentlemen of Verona) no wonder it was such thin gruel. This puzzled me at the time, but it is true. Say I’m mid novel, and someone asks for a short, and the short comes out heavy and hot (not that way you pervs!) rushing forth full of life. I have to take a day before I resume the novel, or the novel will be pathetic and lifeless till I forget the short.
With the blog I have to walk the fine line of still making the posts interesting enough to be worth your time (and occasional money. This babbler works for tips) and not draining the novels of energy and excitement.
Still on the third hand, as some people have pointed out, there is such a thing as publicity and not exactly by design, this blog seems to be my best tool for that. I didn’t plan it that way – facebook is so much less work. It is just the way it is. The number of fan letters I get that say “I read your blog and bought this book–” outweighs all other methods of promo save the blog tour.
So, what to do? Well, I’ve tried writing a week of posts in advance. The problem is, because the posts proceed from “what is passing at the moment” it’s very hard to conjure seven topics I feel passionate about one after the other. I’ve managed four, and it takes me pretty much a full writing day.
This is not to announce I’m giving up the blog – as I said, it seems my most effective publicity tool. OTOH it takes a lot of time and effort. But then I gave up sleep for lent three years ago, so mwah ah ah ah ah.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that anything else you do that involves words can cannibalize your writing, and you need to be aware of that. Teaching or talking in panels does that for me.
While I’m not like the young writer who thought she had a quota of words and couldn’t even talk on the phone for fear of wasting them – I am conscious of a limited supply of “push”, of energy to give the words. And sometimes, I simply won’t have it. Which is when I sit here going “uh…. duh.”
What to do about it? I don’t know. Part of this, and part of the reason I think the blog is effective is that I ENJOY the blog and ya’ll’s contributions.
Honestly, though, the greatest drain is “what to write about.” Yeah, just fresh from a trip to DC, I can tell you that my GPS is trying to kill me. And it was the perfect post for a day when I didn’t have much brain. Yes, I’m contemplating a post on conspiracy and sociability. And a post on revolutions. And a post on whether women are needed. (The guys can shut up now. Like all the idiot men who say men are no longer needed – that’s what is going to turn into a rant – I happen to imagine myself as the sole surviving woman in a world full of males. Oh, wait… my female friends and female commenters in this blog can stay too. There’s enough for all of us. As for the rest of women… sucks to be them. And lest someone takes offense, of COURSE I’m joking. It is a rebuttal to the New York Time’s continued attempts to Onionize itself, by printing an article on how men are obsolete.) Those will all be serious posts and therefore energyy draining, but probably worth it. And I have a guest post on hand from my friend Tedd Roberts.
On the other hand, that’s all I have on deck, right now. No other post ideas. So… all of you… what would you like to hear about? I noted Beth making notes for low tech societies. If my upbringing is worth something it is first hand knowledge of those and there are surprising accomodations. And I or one of the people here who research/read history for fun can probably elucidate stuff I don’t now. By that I mean not just “tell us about your childhood” but “How did people get around this?” or “did you have that?” or “I’m writing in society x – how did they do y?”
Then there is the fact some of you might be crazy enough to solicit my opinion on serious issues. There’s a lot of opinions in here, and they’re worth what you pay for them. And we can go into more Human Wave stuff, but ask me questions, please, because I’m finishing two novels and I’m writer of very little brain. Stuff like “Sarah, how does human wave reconcile distopias? You’re aware your books are not all fluffy bunnies?” are welcome.
Also, I will take guest posts. If you think it’s worth it, I wouldn’t mind doing a guest post once a week or so from different people each time. Just let me know what you wish to blog on, and if you’re one of the regulars I’ll probably take it. (Though I might tweak it, she says, not thinking RES will want to do a guest post, but afraid of the punny depths he’d sink to.)
Also none of you have sent me announcements of upcoming stuff. Have you all been idle? (Cracks whip.)
Anyway – send questions my way, either via email or in comments here. Questions, suggestions, oranges, characters…. whatever you have on hand. I can ramble about a lot of things, but I need to be pointed in A direction first.
And now I’m going to take my scattered self and go work on Noah’s Boy.