There's an interview with Paolo Bacigalupi up at Techland and, quite apart from the fact that I am now livid with jealousy over what is apparently the coolest surname meaning EVER, towards the end of the interview Bacigalupi has some powerful things to say about writing:1
For me … having the raw ability … it was meaningless, ultimately. It was the willingness to write four novels and fuck them all up and keep going that was the definer … the willingness to accept failure and not let it stop you, and to not let that define you.
And I feel like it doesn't get talked about, that idea that nobody accidentally gets published. You don't accidentally fall into writing a novel. Just the process of actually writing a novel is too damn hard for anybody to accidentally fall into it. And if somebody says, "yeah I just did it," they're probably lying. They wanted it and they went after it is what they did.
…Discipline comes from within, not from without. I think of it as being, there are those people who are waiting for the thing to arrive, and then there's people who are going out and making it. I think about it as almost theft. You almost have to steal the book from the rest of your life. There's so few things that are going to support you in the process of writing a book. There's always more child care. There's always some emergency that has to happen. There's always some reason why, you know, you have a deadline at your regular job and so you have to stay up late, and you can't get your writing done. If you're going to write it's always stolen from somebody else's time, or some other responsibility.
Life's been a bit hectic lately, complicated by such fun things as being stalked by RSI and productivity targets at the dayjob, not to mention a ludicrous quantity of errands, and it's been stealing my writing time and energy. Worse, I've been letting that happen — because the stories I have at hand are being uncooperative, and procrastinating on them is far easier than wrangling them into submission.2
Carving time out of your day and life to write is a lesson I've already learnt — but it's also one of those lessons I continually have to re-learn and re-affirm. It can be a hard fight, to carve out that time for myself and my stories, but the hardest fight is to do it consistently and incessantly, every day. Life lets me steal a pocket out of any given day without too much trouble — but when I try to steal a pocket out of every single day, life fights back. Sooner or later, life lands a suckerpunch, and I'll miss a day. That's when the slide starts, and I find myself skipping two days and promising myself if I just have the rest of the week off from writing to knock over all these errands I'll be able to start again on Saturday with a clear head.
Finding time to write, it seems, is one endless game of snakes and ladders. Only without the ladders.
Today I'm going to dodge those pesky snakes, though.