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Ev’ry Day I’m Creatin’

While my work computer suffers from a brain hemorrhage (is that spelled right?), I’m going to take the opportunity, rare for me any more, to sit and ramble about a topic that’s been on my mind lately. And I’m going to start with what may be the most puffed-up, hubristic (is that a real word?) thing I’ve ever said:

I think I’m as good a writer as Neil Gaiman.

Not always; I mean, when I’m having a good day and he’s having a bad one, that kind of thing. The point is, in terms of my quality of prose, I’m in his league.

But of course, he’s a famous, respected, professional author who makes a living (and one assumes a pretty good one) with his craft, whereas I’m this guy on the internet, y’know? So what’s the difference?

My theory, at least at the moment, is volume. Neil Gaiman writes a metric buttload of stuff, all the time, and he sells it to anybody and everybody willing to pay. The sun comes up, he sneezes out a short story and sells it to some magazine, then he works on a novel for a few hours, goes to lunch and finds a Doctor Who script in his back pocket he’s been meaning to send off, then comes back home and works on his Ted talk.

He’s creating, all the time. He’s always got more stories to tell. This is where I break down.

I don’t feel like I’ve got lots of stories to tell. I’ve talked before about having tons of characters and settings but no plot: this is what I mean. This is the giant broken part of my writing craft that I’ve struggled with since forever. I’m working right now on a story idea that should flow from me like a rushing river, as it combines many things that I love dearly. Think “Jeeves, Wooster, and horrible monsters,” and you’ll get a glimmering of the notion. I should be all over that, right?

I’m not. I have no idea what happens. The characters are sitting around a table staring at me, waiting for me to tell them what to do. I keep shouting at them, “How should I know? Telling me what you do is your job!” and they just keep on staring.

This is why Neil is Neil, and I’m me.

But writing and making art is what I’m here for; one of the reasons I’ve been so horribly depressed lately is that I’m not doing what it is I’m supposed to do. (Pony fans: insert a reference to ‘What My Cutie Mark Is Telling Me’ here. ‘cos I ain’t gonna do it. ;P) So if the difference between Neil Gaiman and me is volume, volume, volume, that means I need to start creating more. Anything more.

To that end, I’ve been instituting a “make something every day” policy. It doesn’t have to be a finished piece every day (and in fact, there’s no way I could do that kind of volume in the 15-45 minute increments I’ve got to work with), but it has to be some kind of progress. Obviously, more is better, but as little as a sketch or a paragraph counts. The key is that no day goes by without at least a tiny dot on the progress bar.

I think there have been results already: yesterday’s Fictionlet (the first in months) was well-received, I’ve got the beginnings of an art piece that I’m looking forward to seeing the end of, and some creative thoughts regarding my new comic idea have bubbled to the surface.

It’s agonizing, glacially-slow progress, but even that is more than the no progress I was making, say, this time last month. Here’s hoping that it snowballs.

I’m halfway through my life. I don’t have time to “hope for better things in the future” any more. I’m in my future. If it doesn’t get better now, it’s not going to.

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
rowyn
May. 1st, 2013 04:51 pm (UTC)
*gets out pom-poms* Go Gneech! :) Glad to hear it. And yes, agreed that Gaiman's volume of (consistently good if not always amazing) output is one of the keys to his overall success.

I enjoy all of your work, but I think the ficlets are my favorite. ♥

I used to struggle a lot with plot (still do to some extent), but I think that writing tarot-card prompt stories last year cured me of that, oddly. De-mystified it for me. Which I say not because 'this will work for you too!' (I am not even particularly suggesting you try it) but just on the general theme of hope and that sometimes recurring problems actually are solvable when you work at them. :)
the_gneech
May. 2nd, 2013 03:25 am (UTC)
Usually if I stick with something long enough, a plot will eventually bang itself out. But I always do better when I have a plot first and can do the character- and world-building around it.

-TG
huskyteer
May. 1st, 2013 05:56 pm (UTC)
I'm a believer in 'something every day'. On holiday once, my boyfriend observed me writing postcards every evening and said "You've always got to be writing something!", which pleased me hugely.

Volume, though, argh. It's not just lack of ideas or lack of time, though neither helps - I'm a slow writer. If I have a brand new, exciting idea and a wet Sunday with nowhere I need to go, I might manage 2000 words, and that would be amazing for me.

BTW, #ReplaceThundercatsWithUnderpants absolutely made my day. You could be content with that as today's creative thing, frankly :)
the_gneech
May. 2nd, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it! :D I was making that joke back in high school, when the Thundercats were new! ;)

-TG
(Deleted comment)
the_gneech
May. 2nd, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
Not if I write about My Little Pony! Yarr!

-TG
kylet
May. 1st, 2013 09:11 pm (UTC)
I took a quick look at Gaiman's wiki bio. As far as I can tell, he's always been employed as a writer; looks like he did journalism and biographies initially before the fiction stuff.

You, meanwhile, have had a (non-creative) day job as long as I've known you.

So of COURSE his volume is higher than yours :-p If you weren't stressing every day over a 9 to 5, you don't think coming up with stuff would be easier?

Not to say that "something every day" isn't a good goal, but I've never managed to swing that myself. Good luck!
the_gneech
May. 2nd, 2013 03:28 am (UTC)
Well yes, but it's kind of a catch-22. He can write more, because he writes all the time, because he writes for a living, because he can write more. :P

I've GOT to get there.

-TG
jamesbarrett
May. 1st, 2013 11:55 pm (UTC)
i used to do that whole something every day thing, but my problem is not slacking off and forgetting I was even doing something like that...I'd get bored of the routine of it all, when all I really wanted was to just keep doing it...something shiny would come my way, and oops, was I doing something else, oh well....But when I was doing something every day, I was doing lots of somethings every day. it fed on itself.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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