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ccfinlay

The Wages Of Happiness

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Jun. 30th, 2007 | 02:17 am

I've always disliked the romantic notion of the writer struggling alone in his garret. Material want, isolation, and, above all, unhappiness, have always been the recipe for low productivity for me.

Anyway, since getting married to raecarson last January, I've finished the following:

- "The Political Prisoner," the novella sequel to "The Political Officer" that I've been working on for years
- "Powerboy's Last Adventure," a comic superhero short that had been sitting in my unfinished pile for years
- "Texas Bake Sale," a short story about desert-bound pirates in a post-apocalyptic U.S.

Plus I've written over two hundred pages of the witches in the American Revolution novel! That brings my grand total to over around 260 pages of new material in the last six months, plus another 100 pages of revision to finish something.

I've only averaged 200 pages a year for the last three or so years. I'm a slow writer in general, needing a lot of time to think about what I'm writing and requiring many drafts to get it right. So, here I am, only six months into the year, and I've already shot way past my recent annual average and am heading back toward my old writing pace of six or seven years ago. And I feel like I'm just getting up to speed: I'm working on the new book, researching and making notes for the sequel which I hope to start in another month or too, and squelching a new short story idea every other week or so, all on top of the full-time job, OWW, and parenting.

Part of it is just because Rae is there to help out. If I'm having a really productive writing week, like I did this past week, she makes dinner for me so I don't forget to eat and stuff. It's very sweet. But beyond those practical things, it's been changing the daily routine, to, well a routine, that includes long walks where we talk about books, dvds at bedtime that lead us to talk about story, and working side-by-side at our desks or in the coffeeshop, where we can talk about books. I've often been accused of having a one-track mind, but who would have ever thought the track was really fiction? Because she's into books as much (or more) than I am, and spending just as much time writing and thinking about writing, it's been so much easier to stay focused day to day, just because we're constantly bouncing things off each other.

I know there are writers who create their best work out of disaster or are their most productive during times of personal crisis, and I hate them with all my heart and soul because I will never be like that I admire that. I really do.

But, boy, I have to tell you, I'm glad to feel this good again, day in and day out, and happy to feel like there's never enough time left in the day to squeeze the pixels into words. I bet there are other writers out there who are more productive when they're happy in their day-to-day, but nobody talks about it much, so here I am, talking about it. Maybe for some people it's worth solving our other problems before trying to grind out stories.

And now, before I go to work for the afternoon, I better go do something nice for Rae, who is already sitting at her writing desk. I'm happy I can do that.

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Comments {20}

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from: eljaydaly
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
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That's an incredibly uplifting entry.

Here's to happy writers in giddy garrets, as opposed to bleakness and misery!

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S.K.S. Perry

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from: sksperry
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
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You have no idea how happy I am for you. *g*

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Wendy S. Delmater

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from: safewrite
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
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What an inspiring thing to hear. I'm aiming for the same sort of happiness (and word count) *crosses fingers* but then, aren't we all.

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(Deleted comment)

C. C. Finlay

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from: ccfinlay
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
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Yes, but we're working against the fact that pain, suffering, and addiction make for more conflict, which makes for better stories, and when we talk about other writers (even to the point of idealizing their lives into models for contemporary writers), we naturally skew toward all the stuff that makes for good stories, not for the details that make for easier writing or a happier life.

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from: mmerriam
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
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I'm going to be on a panel at CONvergence about the myth of hte miserable writer struggling away in his garret. I'm one of those writers who works best when he's happy.

BTW. Good for you and Rae both! I'm glad to see this marriage is making you both more productive as writers. I'm telling you, happy is the key.

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Frigg

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from: frigg
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC)
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*nods*

C gets a pained look everytime I talk writing. He doesn't even *gasp* read books. I think spousal support and interest in whatever you're doing is a huge motivating factor*. I would love to have a partner to talk shop with. Perhaps you could lend me Rae from time to time? ;)

*I have the support, just not the interest.

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(no subject)

from: sarah_prineas
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
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That's so great, Charlie! I'm glad to hear that things are working out well.

My suggestion: do the dishes. As you know, there's nothing sexier than a man doing the dishes!

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(no subject)

from: froggie_spawn
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC)
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Seriously, this makes me so happy for you that I am slightly choking up. (I know! Me!) I absolutely love that you are in a happy, supportive environment. I cannot wait to meet this fabulous woman!

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chris_r_evans

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from: chris_r_evans
date: Jun. 30th, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Wait, you're saying bitter and twisted isn't the way to go? Nerts, I had that in the bag.

Actually, this is one of the most life affirming things I've heard in a long time. Thanks for sharing, and in turn, making my day a little brighter in the process.

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Hannah

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from: buymeaclue
date: Jul. 1st, 2007 12:25 am (UTC)
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Good post.:)

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pjthompson

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from: pjthompson
date: Jul. 1st, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
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Awwww...I'm glad you're happy.

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loquacious_lad

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from: loquacious_lad
date: Jul. 1st, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)
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That is so cool. Congrats.

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godsdelight

Awww!

from: godsdelight
date: Jul. 1st, 2007 01:46 am (UTC)
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That's so cool! Thanks for posting about this. We need to hear more about the "happy productive writers" -- and ones who are actually living the happy life (I suppose it would suck to write best when feeling optimistic and always be depressed or vice versa).

Anyway, YOU GO, man! (And keep up the great lovin', Rae!)

(You ARE returning the favor, right, Charlie-man?)

*grin* Mutual benefit, mutual interests... dude, that rocks. Personally, I just keeping holding out hope that someday my hubby will understand why I write and why I'm so passionate about story. Or even if he doesn't understand, at least embrace it instead of resist it with deep suspicion. *grin* Someday!

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Greg van Eekhout

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from: gregvaneekhout
date: Jul. 1st, 2007 01:48 am (UTC)
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Great post, dude. Writing has been a great refuge at times when I've been unhappy, but I think I do my best work when I'm happy, which I like to think is my natural state.

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rcloenen_ruiz

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from: rcloenen_ruiz
date: Jul. 1st, 2007 10:12 am (UTC)
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I loved reading this post. It's great to read about couples who support and encourage each other. Long live happy writers!

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writerswife

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from: writerswife
date: Jul. 1st, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)
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awwwwwwww! So glad you're happy...and productive (that just magnifies the happiness, doesn't it?). I'm a bum and didn't send a card, but if I could wish anything for the two of you, it would be just what you posted. May you live a life full of it.

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from: hkneale
date: Jul. 2nd, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
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I agree. Happiness is the best formula for productivity. I did far more writing married than I did single.

I need to be in a secure place in order to write. If I've got some sort of angst to worry about, I end up putting all my energy into solving the source of the angst, and therefore I can't get anything done. Angst bothers me, because if I don't take care of it, it gets worse.

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from: morewineplease
date: Jul. 2nd, 2007 02:59 pm (UTC)
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Rae's kinda good like that. :) So glad to hear of your progress! (Happy Birthday, btw!)

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(no subject)

from: everyonesakitty
date: Jul. 3rd, 2007 12:56 am (UTC)
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I'm the same as you; I totally write better when I'm content and settled. Mebbe we've suffered enough already, and now it's time we sit and write.

(and Happy Birthday! *sings and throws confetti!*)

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purdypiedad

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from: purdypiedad
date: Jul. 3rd, 2007 03:23 am (UTC)
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Congrats, Charlie. This post makes the seester really happy. *has warm fuzzies*

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