Friday, February 03, 2006

So, Who Am I, Really?

Yesterday's post brought me to thinking about the direction I want to go in my writing career. Fiction is absolutely my first, best love. Fiction lets me explore deep places and discover fascinating new things. Though some of them are a little slimy-icky, that's OK. They are things I need to see and disect. If someone else in the world can learn something from that, too, that's just "more better". But...

But...I also like to write nonfiction. I get to do research and learn new things. I write well. Frankly, I write a heap better than most of the people publishing nonfiction these days. Nonfiction pays better, too. Lots better. And I can knock out a publication-ready 2000 word article in no more than a couple of days. Short stories take a lot more time, sweat, blood, and cursing, and I can't seem to sell them for shit. Yet.

So what do I do? Use nonfiction to get name recognition, publication credits, and money for books, a new computer, all the essentials of a writer's life? There are two real questions, I think.

  • Can I balance two very different kinds of writing in limited time available?

  • Will becoming known as a writer of nonfiction hurt my chances at publishing fiction?

The first question is just a matter of discipline, which I have not yet developed to the extent required. That's kind of worrisome. If I decide to concentrate more on nonfiction, will I let my fiction languish, or can I find the discipline to wear all these different hats at their appropriate times. I guess there's no way to tell without making the commitment and going forward with it, but my self-destructive side is still very much active in my life. Self-sabotage is so easy, and "I told you so" makes my internal critic so very happy. I'm gradually learning to forgive myself for my mistakes and pick up where I left off, so that would help.

The impact of a writer's reputation on publishing fiction is a little murky in this area. There certainly are writers who swing both ways. Holly and Zette are both prime examples, but they concentrate mainly on writing about writing, meta-writing is the academic buzz-word. What I'm talking about is doing general nonfiction, whatever subject I can think of that has any interest for me, which is just about everything. I think the answer to that question remains up in the air. Fiction publishing is subject to a lot more vagaries than nonfiction, is my impression. Reputation is very important, both in terms of personality and in terms of previous publications. That nags at me and holds me back from jumping in.

I'm really dithering about this right now. It sure is nice to have stuff published and get paid for it, but I sure would prefer for it to be my fiction. I'll check with the Tarot one day soon and see if it can offer any focus. So, who am I really? I guess that's for me to decide.


At 6:25 PM, Blogger Jean said...

I have a gut feel on this that may be very off-base. I don't think non-fiction publication will help get you published in the fiction world, but I don't believe it will hurt you either. It *could* impact the amount of time you have available for fiction writing, which, in turn, could hurt your fiction chances, but that would be the same for any part time job you pick up to pay bills or allow you to buy extras.

At 2:00 AM, Blogger Ronn said...

Speaking from a dearth of insight on the subject, it’s all about the discipline.

If you like writing both fiction and non-fiction, do both. Make time in your schedule for both types of writing. Yes, your fiction writing will suffer, but how much it suffers really depends on how much time you spend on non-fiction. Right? And anyway, if you can bring in extra money with the non-fiction stuff, you’re still earning a paycheck with your writing.

I don’t think the non-fiction stuff will help your fiction, but I don’t think it’ll really hurt it either. You’ve just got to find the right balance.


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