Friday, October 14, 2011

Writing in Advance

Writers have all sorts of different methods, and my attitude has always been that, while you can take advice from here or there, you're your own person, and you've got to work in a way that works for you. As long as you're being honest about what's good and what isn't, you should test out different methods and not follow a prescription. Some writers schedule hours out of their day, while others ruminate for days or weeks or years, then write manically.

This is a point I insisted upon, when I taught creative writing. It's the work that counts, ultimately, and I don't care how you produced it, outside of my writerly curiosity. That's something I've imported into my job as a publisher: I don't tend to be terribly strict about deadlines, because I'd rather have a great book than one that was rushed, against the writer's method, to meet an arbitrary date. The downside of that approach is that many writers need deadlines, so it's a delicate balancing act.

Anyway, I'm certainly on the manic side of that spectrum.

Two days ago, I finished my Monday Sequart post for 14 November. I tend to run several weeks in advance, because I like the certainty of knowing I have a queue, and this gives me the freedom to live the lifestyle of a quasi-manic-depressive writer, and I know I'm particularly susceptible to the pattern of throwing myself passionately into something for 36 hours straight and then disappearing for three days.

That doesn't mean that I can't slot other, timely material into this queue. If I've got a crazy or a brilliant idea I want to get out there, especially if it's on a timely subject, it makes sense to let that go to the head of the line. But if nothing materializes, if I'm just not inspired by recent comics or current events, or if I'm in some weird writer's funk or busy flying off to Bali to get married to someone I barely know, I know got that cushion of work already there.

And it's hardly filler. It's work I care passionately about. It's just not particularly timely.

And as a publisher, having queues is essential. With Sequart, we tend to run a few weeks in advance, although Cody, Kevin, and I all tend to run closer to a month. The weekends are far more open and subject to scrambling. Fortunately, Cody does a fantastic job as webmaster, working with writers and getting pieces up ahead of time.

That lets me breathe. Because believe me, there's no way to run a website with daily content without doing it this way. If I don't know that we're locked away, I get really nervous. It's one thing, relying on yourself. But when you need work by someone else, you don't want to be in the position of calling that person last-minute, only to find out that person had a fire or something -- or worse, to get assurances the work will be done, leaving you to stress about whether it will actually arrive, or arrive in a form that needs editing you cannot do at that particular moment (because you're asleep, for example).

And whether you're manic or not, we all get the blues. We all have lives, and lives are unpredictable.

Over at Martian Lit, I've got nine weeks of my own contributions already written. That's a little different, because the site hasn't launched yet. Launching a site properly, so you can ensure regular delivery of quality content, is no small thing. I wanted to launch the site a couple months back, but the material wasn't quite ready. Unfortunately, this leaves a few people, who have delivered material and done nothing wrong, having to wait. That's something I regret and take seriously, and all I can do is assure people that we are working and do know what we're doing, in deciding that it's best to delay.

Ah, the life of a writer. And the joys of not having to work last minute!

No comments: