Where is this horse you speak of?

It has been a lit­tle over a month since I have writ­ten any fic­tion. Not a word. But I am get­ting back on that prover­bial horse.

A lit­tle over a month ago, I was offered a half time job by a friend, and I took it. Thus a third, part-time career was born. I am writ­ing words for a small, local, mod­er­ate polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion. It fits me polit­i­cal­ly pret­ty well (I’m an unabashed Lib­er­al, but a reg­is­tered Repub­li­can), and there is a des­per­ate need here in Kansas for any­one with a mod­icum of sense to speak out. I am encour­ag­ing peo­ple to be get­ting on that. I write for our social media prop­er­ties (see, jar­gon!) and also “craft” our mar­ket­ing mes­sage. And I’ll be blog­ging once we get our new web­site up.

So, you know, get­ting paid to write!

And even if it isn’t get­ting paid to write my fic­tion, I do get to put words togeth­er, and that part has been fun.


I’m here to do this. I quit my mod­est but bet­ter-than-this pay­ing job to write fic­tion. And this past month, I have not done that. It’s been the usu­al cock­tail of work I want to do, work I’m not sure I want to do, per­son­al moti­va­tion issues, Life Stuff To Do, and now Job that Must Be Done.


I am up, and I am at ‘em. And it is five in the freakin’ morn­ing.

And I am writ­ing.

I’ve only just begun to write

Some of you may already know that I quit my job a cou­ple of weeks ago. Some of you may even know that I also quit my career at the same time. I’ve been work­ing in High­er Edu­ca­tion web devel­op­ment or tech­nol­o­gy since I took my first part-time job at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Iowa in 1996. That’s sev­en­teen years of web devel­op­ment work at three dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions. It is a lot of time put into a career to flush it all away now.

But I have.

What are you doing instead?

I am going to write.

Um, okay. What are you going to write?

Well, that’s the ques­tion, isn’t it? When I start­ed, or rather, before I start­ed, my glib answer was that I’d write any­thing any­one want­ed to pay me for. That felt like the answer I was sup­posed to give, the answer that made this leap off the cliff at least some­what sen­si­ble. “Sure,” I said/thought, “I’ll write any­thing as long as it pays. Tech­ni­cal writ­ing, spec writ­ing, social media, what­ev­er.” Peo­ple who knew even less than I do about the writ­ing busi­ness would take that as a com­fort. I did for a while, until I fig­ured out I was fool­ing myself.

As it turns out, I don’t want to write just any­thing. I don’t want to do tech­ni­cal writ­ing. I don’t want to write web arti­cle-ads for pen­nies “just to get your name out there.” I don’t want to do PR. Is this because I’m only two weeks into it, and I’m still flushed with the promise of a Writ­ing Career? Will I be beat­en down by the end, will­ing to write ad copy for the local FREE Rental Mag­a­zine? I prob­a­bly am unrea­son­ably chip­per about it, I’ll admit.

But for now, I want to write three things. I want to write opin­ion arti­cles (hey, that’s what a blog is for, huz­zah!), I want to write fea­ture arti­cles, and I want to write sci­ence-fic­tion and/or fan­ta­sy and/or fic­tion. Basi­cal­ly, I want to write sto­ries.

What makes you think you can make it as a writer?

I know the road to becom­ing a writer is lit­tered with the car­cass­es of oth­ers’ attempt­ed careers. I know that “starv­ing artist” is a stereo­type for a rea­son. My moth­er once told me that she believed that peo­ple are artists or writ­ers because they can­not help it. They can­not stop writ­ing. They can’t not write.

That’s not me. I am lazy, unpro­duc­tive and eas­i­ly dis­tract­ed.

But my moth­er also raised me with an excess of con­fi­dence, and I do think I am a good writer. I think I can, is the answer, I guess.

How can you afford it?

Well, I can’t, frankly. The wife and I sat down and worked out a bud­get that would keep our stan­dard of liv­ing rough­ly where it is, at least where our kids are con­cerned. So we kept after school activ­i­ties and enrich­ment stuff, but killed TV. We save on child care but not on health care. We’re not eat­ing out (ever, it seems) and we’re watch­ing our spend­ing like hawks (lazy, eas­i­ly dis­tract­ed hawks). And even so we’re in the red. That is, we’re bud­get­ed to be in the red. That’s not good.

So I have picked up a small time gig doing some social media writ­ing, and that is help­ing us close the gap. But what I real­ly need is to write, so I can sell, so I can write some more.

How long before you come to your sens­es?

I’m telling peo­ple that I’m giv­ing it a year. Some stuff hap­pens in a year that will make it much hard­er to do this, if I’m not mak­ing any mon­ey yet. Or, you know, if it looks like I won’t be bring­ing in any mon­ey any time soon, some­day. If it turns out that I am a ter­ri­ble writer.

Okay. So how is it going?

So far it is going okay. I’ve been at it for two weeks now, full time. The first week was tak­en up with a meet­ing and time spent on the social media gig. Ramp­ing up on that took longer than I had thought it would. I also had some issues keep­ing my not-writ­ing bound­aries firm that first week. Then last week I kind of lost it a lit­tle, in terms of my focus. Focus is an issue for me, as it has always been. If I’m into some­thing, it is easy to lose myself in it, be pro­duc­tive and cre­ative and awe­some. If I’m not, it can be a dis­tinct chal­lenge to make any head­way (my sis­ter will remem­ber a leg­endary bout with frac­tions in the sixth grade…).

Last week, I had too much on my plate, or thought I did. And as a result I drift­ed. This week, I’m much more focused. The chal­lenge will be to main­tain that every day, every morn­ing.

I’ll keep you in the loop on how it’s going.

So, is that it?

Yup. I’m also going to read. I’m told that read­ing is the best way to lubri­cate the writ­ing. I hope to walk the dog on occa­sion, and I’ll be here when the kids get home from school. But I am try­ing my best to keep the not-writ­ing away from the Writing’s time.