I've been solving one short story for about two and a half months. It's been a difficult struggle, but I finally put the first draft to bed last week. I have to write faster. Part of the reason I'm updating this blog more regularly (which is to say, regularly) is that I need to write every day, even on the days that I don't peck away at a story.
Because I have changed. I'm not the same person I was in February when I started this story. Allowing the process of the story to drag on so long means that the story will likely be weakened, thematically. I will no longer have the same passion for the plot and the themes that I did when it was fresh in my head. I have stared at it and been sick of it because I've been thinking and reading the same damn thing for the past two months.
Robert Asperin once said "I'm not a slow writer, and I'm not a fast writer. I'm a half-fast writer." And I have to avoid that. I'm not going to support myself with short stories, even if I write one a week. Because even at professional rates, that's (.05 x 5,000=$250 per story x 52 weeks=) $13,000 a year. Which is not liveable. But if I can learn to hammer out the prose with the short stories, I'll be able to sustain my attention for longer when I'm writing a novel. After my current story, "Tribute Band", I'm back to my novel. Which will be finished by NECON so I can ask James Moore (because hey! James Moore!) to read it, and then I'll move on to my next novel as I'm passing the current one around for publication.
A working mid-list novelist needs to sell at least two novels a year. The advance on the average mid-list novel is less than $10,000, so two novels a year is pretty well required unless I'm going to bet that I'm going to be huge. And while I can hope I'm going to be huge, I'm smart enough that I don't think I'm going to bet on it.
I've set the first draft deadline for the latest short story at the 27th. I need to get faster about my stories, because I need to ace deadlines when I'm asked to write something. Being early, and even better, getting a reputation for being early, can be an enormous asset when editors are thinking about who to invite into their anthology.
Special Thanks to Brian Keene and Walter Jon Williams for some hard truths that made this post possible.