I thought I might write a blogpost about writing stuff cos I don’t really do things like this much, I generally just talk nonsense on Twitter and I am too lazy to blog regularly. And I also have some stuff upcoming that I thought I could tell you about, so two birds with one cat, or whatever.
Anyway, I saw a thing on Twitter about how the saying ‘if you find a job you love you’ll never work a day in your life’ was wrong and about how writing IS work. I think it was Chuck Wendig? Anyway, I would like to REFUTE STRONGLY what he was saying, by which I mean largely agree with what he was really saying while talking about how words are really quite nebulous things and half the time whether something chimes, or doesn’t, with us is dependant on the emotional weight a word holds for us. In short, our experience colours the way we perceive things and don't get angry about the small stuff as we agree more often than not.
So, "Work". I have a standing agreement with my agent that we don’t use the words ‘work’ or ‘career’ or ‘job.’
I hate those words.
They have very specific meanings for me past what is in the dictionary. Writing is very much NOT work for me. Work is thing I have had to do, not by choice, but because I want the simple things in life, like food, or shelter. There have been so many years where I have dragged myself from a warm bed to get a bus to go to a place and to do a thing I had no interest in while under the sway of people who I didn’t like whose motives in life I didn’t understand*. I'm sure, to a huge swathe of people, that feeling of being at work and knowing that ‘this is not what I should be doing’ is familiar. I cannot remember feeling any other way about work. Cannot remember going in to work without wondering what I would have forgotten to do or what odd rule of corporate life I would have crossed, or what thing I what thing I had got done but not in the way I was meant to.** Or, more often than not, what I could be doing instead.
In short, work for me was an exercise in dread, constant low level anxiety and a generally less than optimal life. I am sure it is for a lot of people.
So, is writing work?
No, not for me. I chose to do it. I actively enjoy the thought of it every day. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard, or emotionally draining or tiring or frustrating sometimes. It is often all of those things, and few things, so far, in life can match the time pre book release for finding the keys to your head and opening up whatever can of worry and anxiety you have in there. But I still never think of it as work, because if I did it would feel like it had become some sort of obligation for me. That I was going backwards in life to a place where I didn’t want to be. When it starts to feel like work, and sometimes it does, I take a few days, step back, do something else***. Let myself remember why I love what I do so much. How lucky I am to be here doing this right now.
In short, of course I don't disgaree with Chuck (if it was Chuck). This is basically the same thing that Chuck (if it was Chuck) was saying. Writing is hard sometimes, don't let that stop you. But also, I was thinking that half the time you see people falling out on the internet (I’ll just aside politics here, and stick strictly to the largely inconsequential) it’s often because people weight words differently, rather than because they actively disagree.
So find what works for you, using what makes you happy is a great way of getting things done. If you're the sort of person that needs to do the work to feel like you're getting somewhere? Then do the work. And if you’re the sort of person who never wants to work a day in your life? Well, then don’t.
TL/DR. It's all good and we're mostly more alike than not. Just get the thing done.
Follows is some recent reviews of THE BONE SHIPS. Then some appearance dates and some footnotes.
‘A perfect storm of Fantasy.’
“...utterly different from The Wounded Kingdom, yet just as rich with detail. “
“The worldbuilding, the prose, the character development, and the story beats are all top-notch.”
SPACE AND SORCERY.
It will be fascinating to see where his journey will lead him as the story progresses, and how far he will travel from the morose young man wasting his days in idleness and drink. https://spaceandsorcery.wordpress.com/2019/08/30/review-the-bone-ships-the-tide-child-1-by-r-j-barker/
“Brilliant Writing” ROBIN HOBB.
"Stand out writing...one of the most original worlds I've seen in years." ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY.
“Magnificent." PETE MCLEAN.
"Loved every second of it." TASHA SURI.
“Incredible (haunting, even) worldbuilding, badass female mentors, voicey strangeness, high adventure, and flawed characters with SO MANY FEELINGS from RJ, this time on the high seas! Unique, strange, compelling, and wonderful.” MELISSA CARUSO.
(JOHN GWYNNE also said lovely things but I am an idiot and can't find where I saved the quote. And I;ve missed off osme other people's quotes and reviews. Sorry. I am a slack Alice.')
14 September. THE ENGLISH BOOKSHOP. Uppsala Sweden.
26th September. WATERSTONES Swansea.
01st October. REDDIT AMA on the internets if you can’t see me in person.
3rd October. WATERSTONES Newcastle. (Provisional)
DATE TO BE CONFIRMED. October. Harrogate Waterstones.
18,19,20. October. FANTASYCON GLASGOW. (I’m not sure what I will be up to there yet.)
*Not everyone was horrible, of course. This is almost definitely hyperbole on the part of the author.
** A particularly upsetting episode where it was explained that I was using ‘it’s’ wrong by someone who was using ‘it’s’ wrongly.
***I wish we all could do this when life gets a bit much. I tend to read L.A. Requiem by Robert Crais.