Writing for Fun vs Writing for Work

When asked if I write for fun or for work I say both. It just happens that my work is fun. This isn’t always the case, naturally, as it can be quite difficult to write when I have nothing to say or when my imaginative waters are shallow or, worse, stagnant. But generally I enjoy what I do.

Until days like today when my imagination is suffering from technical difficulties so instead of forcing myself to write, I reorganize my writing folder on my computer. There are folders for current/past projects but a lot of misc files were sitting around looking messy so I tidied up by sticking them some in a Misc folder and deleting others.

Go me. I’m so original.

Several files caught my eye as I was cleaning. Most of these stories were less than 1000 words long – short starts that never went anywhere. A lot of them could be traced back to either when I was living in Japan or just after that time period when my imagination was still being heavily influenced by my time there.

Holly would smile at some of the works as she would know all about them. She was always starting writing groups among her friends back then. Back in the day when we were all super excited to start new writing projects but mostly never taking them seriously. Makes me grin thinking back on it all. She was serious about it all so I think it irked her that the rest of us slacked off for the most part. Anywho…

After skimming through some of them I wound up just deleting them, but one in particular clamped down on my attention and didn’t let it go.

It was called MusingsRamble. I think it didn’t have any spaces because the program I wrote it on didn’t allow for spaces though I can’t be sure. The program was well over a decade old. It was another start with no finish, no middle even, but it went on a lot longer than 1000 words – 16 pages in fact! So surprising.

As I read to see if anything was salvageable, I was drawn back to that time in my life when I wrote it. There were parts that made me cringe and others that made me think. The story took me in and refused to let me go so that I used up all my morning writing time reading it. I’d say it was a waste of time except I don’t think it was.

The concept intrigues me. It’s grabbed my fancy once more as it did a decade ago. Instead of leaving it in the Misc folder, I gave it it’s own place – Land of Dreams and Nightmares. The title was right there in the story, screaming at me though I never noticed it when I was writing.

“Welcome…to the land of dreams.”

But there’s a problem. It’s exactly the sort of story that I’ve been warned against. At least one agent (don’t ask me to recall names) has strongly advised against stories that have a person being transported to another land. I guess it’s been done to death (HA! There’s another thing that’s been overdone). So I’m left with a dilemma: take time out of my stagnant writing career and pursue this for fun or leave it as is, sigh, and move on never to look back?

Decisions. Decisions.

One problem with the story itself (among many unimportant problems with it) is that if I did pursue it, would I be able to recreate the voices of the characters now that it’s 10 years later? They’re all rather unique because they were based off of the actual people I was around at the time. Loosely based.

There are those people who write blog novels – writing in sections and posting them at whatever intervals. I suppose I could try that, but I would have to know a lot more about the process and plan it out a lot beforehand. It might be fun.

Should I blog out this novel or leave it and focus on my “real” work? Any thoughts?

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About Katie St. John-Shin

I believe in living life and not letting it pass you by. I mean, come on, if you really want to do something but don't have the courage to do it so you let the opportunity disappear, you may regret it for the rest of your life. How can you know what you're capable of unless you go for it? Like every writer, I naturally plan on becoming a world-famous writer. I love reading, writing, fitness, coffee, watching my favorite movies/shows, listening to music, and trying new things even if they're sometimes terrifying. I'm a stay-at-home mom, a writer, and a POP Pilates instructor. I didn't think I'd succeed at that last one but I did it! I confronted my fears, dealt with things I didn't want to deal with, and completed the training! POP Pilates classes are coming soon to mid-Nebraska!
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4 Responses to Writing for Fun vs Writing for Work

  1. Ray St John says:

    I don’t know what it means to “blog out a novel,” but it sounds interesting, like writing in installments for a periodical. I’ve never been able to understand how writers like Jack London could write a set number of words every day and at the end of the month mail it off to the magazine to be published without a second look (I could be wrong about that second look since I am taking the word of biographers and maybe Jack himself; and my memory could be faulty as well). If you did write a novel in a blog format, would you hold it back for a little editing or would you just spew the words to the blogosphere and hope for the best. Maybe your blog readers would suggest changes and poke holes in your story before it’s finished. I think it might be fun unless you attracted the attention of some particularly vituperative butt-nugget types.

    • Only you would spew words like “vituperative.” I had to google it. Did you look up obscure words to use for that meaning or was that particular word hiding out in the bowels of your brain, waiting to spring forth like some sort of monstrosity of the English language? Did you feel an evil glee knowing you’d stump me and most of the rest of the world? 😉

      I find it difficult to believe that anyone could write something once, never look at it again, and have it be perfect enough to publish. He was probably stretching the truth or something to make himself sound cooler or make his career sound more whatever. I shudder to think what my writing would like if I did that. Of course, back then people probably put more thought into what they wrote before they wrote it. Just like people put more thought into pictures they took with their camera before digital cameras were invented.

  2. ShadowDancer says:

    First, I love that your dad paired “vituperative” with “butt-nugget.” Perfection.

    Second, why yes, it did irk me. ^_^ Which wasn’t to say I didn’t enjoy the fun of it…I just…I guess I was looking for a little appreciation for all the time I was putting in while everybody whiffed around. Provided an important learning experience, though…over and over and over again. Hee.

    Third, if you have any specific questions you want quick answers to, please feel free to ask! Blog serials can be huge fun – if I had room to write something that didn’t need to eventually make money for me, I would absolutely devote time to continuing Celluloid Files. If it’s a story you want to play with and would like others to read without necessarily needing any sort of compensation (including feedback – don’t expect any feedback at all once they’re posted), absolutely try it out!

    Fourth, if I were in a different career space, I would totally take what your dad suggested and turn it into a monthly challenge: Write 2000 words, no editing, and post it on your blog on such and such a date. Would probably end up being another Our Story. Ah, to dream!

    Fifth, don’t discount indie publishing! What works for non-traditional readers is hugely different from what traditional publishers are purchasing. It’s a wonderfully viable alternative to sell work you’re passionate about but that might not find a print home in today’s market. You just have to develop a thick skin on the fly, and go in expecting zero sales. I’m coming up on my 1-year publishing anniversary, and I’ve sold about 25-30 copies (most of them to people I know). I’ve “sold” about 600 free copies during giveaways, gotten one review and two ratings; not exactly spectacular. But then, I didn’t expect it to be. And when my stories got stuck in stressed-out purgatory, I *really* didn’t expect it to be. Every now and again, though, I’ll get a random sale out of nowhere…that makes for an awesome day. ^_^ (Check out LindsayBuroker.com for a great Indie blog if you want to look into it more. Or Hugh Howey’s blog; he is THE indie, and a brilliant writer. If I had money, I would eat up his stories immediately.)

    • I can’t believe you understood what my dad was saying with “vituperative.” You suck. I think I’ll wrap myself up all cozy and comfortable in my word blanket of simple mediocrity. Big words hurt my brain.

      I still have Our Story. I loved it then and I love it now. There are things in it that I would love to keep and others that are best left forgotten. That is, I’m sure there is but I’ve forgotten what they were so I can’t give specific examples. 😉

      I wouldn’t want to turn it into a challenge. Then I’d get bummed if I couldn’t keep up after awhile and it wouldn’t be as fun knowing I had to post a certain amount in a certain amount of time. I’m having a hard enough time keeping on target with my “work” writing (On target? What’s that? pfft) without adding that to it. Realistically I’ll toy with the idea for a bit and then forget all about it. I’ll feel a touch of regret as I set it off to the side, knowing I’ll probably never really do anything with it. But it’s nice to think about right now as I repeatedly thump my head against the publishing wall with Night’s Treasure.

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