Friday, October 15, 2010

The Superhumans

Successful writers always stress that if you’re in the field for the fame or the money or any reason other than the drive to write and the love of the art, you’re setting yourself up for horrible disappointment.

I’ve got most of it right. I fully realize that writing only brings fortune to a few, and I’m okay with that. Clearly if I chose careers based on salary I would not be tutoring and adjunct teaching right now. I’m also not desperate to be famous; in fact I think it would make me fairly uncomfortable to be a public figure. (Lemony Snicket had a good thing going.) Though admittedly being famous would make me more likely to meet my favorite writers and actors, which would be amazing. But I don’t necessarily need to be world-renown for that to work, right? I would just need a small niche audience. A small niche audience of my favorite celebrities… Alright, so I may need a new plan.

Even though I’m not really in it for the money or the fame, I did at one time have a different misguided motivation for becoming a writer: I thought it would be an easier and more flexible day job than my other options. I envisioned a relaxing existence in which I wrote for a few hours every morning and evening and spent the rest of my time sipping coffee, playing sports, visiting friends, and teaching one writing class of 16 perfect students.

Then I realized that writers, especially published writers, are ridiculously busy. Not only do you have to write and edit constantly, but apparently you can’t just let your books speak for you; you have to go out in the world, in person, to promote them.

I remember how impressed I was when I learned what Neil Gaiman does with himself when he isn't writing some of my favorite novels ever. He blogs, he tweets, he writes episodes for television shows, he pow-wows with other amazing people, he maintains a long-distance romance with a Dresden Doll (that was a world-colliding moment for me), and most of all he travels the world doing presentations, book signings, panels, and events for charity. He certainly doesn’t need the publicity, but he still spends vast quantities of time away from home connecting with fans and apparently being everywhere at once.

I quickly became convinced that Neil Gaiman possessed superhuman powers, because there simply could not be any time left for him to write. Then he posted a photo of himself perched on a concrete block in a graffiti-strewn Berlin alleyway, scribbling in a notebook between public appearances. And I realized that Neil follows the same important rule that all busy and distracted authors follow, and that I’m trying to emulate myself: he doesn’t find time to write, he makes time to write.

Of course, when I thought about the genius and magic in all of his writing, I decided that he must possess superhuman powers after all.

Now go and read his vastly superior blog already.

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