Monday, February 15, 2010

Smart Things

Pat Rothfuss saying smart things about how much easier it is to become a writer if you live someplace cheap. Tobias Buckell concurs. All I can add is: true dat.

Jay Lake saying smart things about listening to writing advice from pros. Or, just because it worked for us doesn't mean it will work for you.

Sharon Lee with a breakdown of writing income and writer finances. Or, it's not a great way to get rich. Seanan McGuire with more on the same topic.

And, just to get this out of my browser, Neil Gaiman, with something cool on American Gods and the House on the Rock. I might actually have to see if I can go to this. The House on the Rock is all kinds of weird.


Douglas Hulick said...

I have some issues with Pat and Tobias's advice, in that they make the base assumption that you will always have a choice about where you live and write. Yeah, no. Depending on job, spouse, family, legal strings, and oodles of other factors, moving to some place cheap to pursue your writing may not be feasible. It also seems to assume, I will add, that you are expecting writing to pay the bills. That, I think, is an even bigger fallacy.

They both live some place cheap, and were in a position to make theat choice. Patrick was in school, Tobias was doing...something flexible, I assume...and quite possibly either on their own, or early in a relationship. Hurrah for them. It's a great notion, but overall, I think it's pretty cavalier to just say "Well, go live someplace like I lived, on the cheap." Yeah, that'll get you writing if you've been putting it off until now.

I think that living frugally (whether you are counting on writing to pay the bills or not) is a good idea; but I think tacking your writing on to it -- and especially giving it as one of your key pieces of advice to newer writers -- is dubious at best, and fallacious at worst.

It's a neat gig if you can pull it off; but it can also make anyone who is tied down and trying to write feel like they are doing yet one more thing wrong, or have one more hurdle to climb. And in that sense, I think it's bogus.

Kelly McCullough said...

I guess I don't read it quite the same way, perhaps because I've chatted about the writing life with both Toby and Pat in person a number of times.

What I saw was: If you intend to make a living writing* it will make your life easier if you can do this someplace cheap. I think that's true.

There are any number of things that will make your life easier as a writer. Not all of them are manageable by every person. That's sad, even tragic in some cases, but it doesn't make it any less true.

Writing is hard work, it is time consuming, and mostly it doesn't pay well. If you want to make a living as a writer, or even just publish professionally on a regular basis, you are likely to have to make a fair number of difficult choices and give up things that matter to you.

Sometimes that really sucks, and sometimes life pressures will force you to write less and that may suck even more. I've been there a time or two myself, if not as severely as some. I really really wish it weren't the case that some people are going to have much more trouble following the writing path than others.

*Making a living writing is what both of them do, and when I've heard either them asked for advice about becoming a writer, it's generally been at least implicit that becoming a writer in the context of the question meant making a living at it and that's the context I see when I see them giving this advice.

Frank said...

John Scalzi takes a run at the same piece of advice, but from a slightly different angle. He doesn't advise moving someplace cheap, but rather staying where you are rather than moving someplace expensive.

He takes issue with the idea that you have to move to New York to make it as a writer (which seemed to be the general idea for artists back when I was finishing undergrad). With the increasing connectedness teh intarwebs provide, it's easier to be a writer wherever you are, and can afford to be.