Monday, October 02, 2006



Jay Lake is one smart cookie. Over the weekend, he posted some musings about professionalism and writing that come closer to defining how I view my own work that I've ever been able to voice on my own.

Every writer has their own process, but of all the writers I know, I think Jay's is the most like mine that I've encountered. And while I write fast, I don't write nearly as fast as Jay. At WorldCon I decided that we should adopt the jay as a unit of measure for writing speed, equivalent to two thousand words an hour, if I recall correctly, based on some recent posts he'd made. By that yard stick, I write at an average speed of .5 jays. For what it's worth.

Here's the bit of Jay's post that struck closest to home for me.
On the other hand, as Gavin Grant said to me last summer, "You can write four or five books a year. You could write until you're seventy. Does the world really need over a hundred Jay Lake books?" Gavin wasn't making an argument for putting the brakes on or scaling back, simply for the sake of slowing down, nor was he making an argument for a Tim Pratt style assessment of my overall time commitments. He was just asking me what I thought I was doing, and making an argument for remapping my process to write a handful of great books instead of a trunkload of good ones.

Me, I'm writing. I could get hit by a bus walking home from this coffee house (sorry, Scalzi) and I would be done. I could live to be a hundred and thirty seven. How do I know? What I do know is that at the ripe old age of 42, I'm sufficiently conscious of my own mortality to already feel like I'm running ahead of the tide. My answer to Gavin is that I know my own process, and the way I'll get to a great book, if I ever I do, is through the pages of a lot of good ones. I haven't reached greatness yet, as a writer or a human being, but like Moses I've been vouchsafed a glimpse of it. Unlike Moses, God has not promised to strike me down.

So my definition of professionalism? Write as well and often as I can, treat my art like art, treat my business like business, and be as nice as I can to people. Everything else is situational.

I'm 55 and I feel if I can get published in the big leauges by the time I'm 60 and if I live until I'm 80 and keep my health. I could have from 55-25 years of writing.I write 1000 words an hour.The first part is crap its the rewriting where I think the writing picks up and shines.
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