I think I fell a little in love with Victor at that moment. Many years later, his locks are considerably shorter, mine are considerably whiter, but he's still one of the coolest guys I know. He's also a brilliant writer and a consummate professional - if you include the author of Go-Go Girls of the Apolcalypse in the subset of "professional." Today, he's here to share one of the secrets of writers who, like him, are working without a net.
After I write this sentence, I’m going to pause and count how many things I have going right now. Hold on …
Okay, I’m back. The answer is 17. I have 17 things going right now. Yes having something “going” is a vague way to put it. Some of these things are projects on which I am actively working – comic book scripts, pitches, novels. Some are things on which I am waiting to hear news and spend time following up with phone calls and emails. The point is that I have many, many lines in the water at any given time.
Why am I telling you this? Because I’m a freelance writer. I have no day job. And as the title of this blog suggests, that can often be tricky and stressful. Nobody has promised me a damn thing. If I don’t write and if I don’t sell what I write, then the money doesn’t happen. That simple.
So I have 17 things going at once for the simple reason that I know not all 17 of those things will click into place. In this racket you throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and hope some of it sticks. My life is a gumbo of comic book scripts, screenplays, novels in progress, emails, phone calls and all of this hard work is broken up my long moments of staring at a blank wall trying to remember what I was doing five minutes ago. I am not a naturally organized or hard-working person. I must overcome my natural tendency toward sloth to avoid ruin. I am generally a shambling, harried, unshaven wreck. The truth is that if you check with me again this time next year I could be a millionaire or I could be broke. Both scenarios are equally possible.
Okay, so why did I tell you all that? For respect? (Look how much damn hard work I’m doing!) For pity? (I’m soooo tired. Can I take a week off please?) To sell lots of books? (Actually, you should buy some.) No. I’m telling you for the simple reason that a lot of folks just don’t know how it is. Lots of writers have day jobs. I’ve done it that way too. And I have a great spouse with a solid job, so that obviously helps. (Although it takes our combined income to live our comfortable middle-class lives.) For every Lee Child or Michael Connelly, there are a dozen (20? 100?) guys and gals like me whose lives are constant juggling acts. I’m not knocking those writers. They work hard too. I don’t know these guys and would not presume they have it easy. But when they write their next novels, they probably feel pretty confident their publishers will say yes.
It’s just a bit different for us out here on the tightrope. In the high winds.
Without a net.
Victor Gischler is the other of such crime novels as Gun Monkeys and his most recent The Deputy. His “other genre” novels include Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse and Vampire A Go Go. He also writes X-Men for Marvel Comics. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife Jackie and son Emery. You can read excerpts of his books (and lots more besides) at his Blogpocalypse, or follow him on Twitter.
Write First Writer's challenge winners will be announced next Sunday, December 11th. Comments posted on today's blog will count toward the raffle.