Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is This Seat Taken?

Well, well, well.

We meet again, and it seems as though I’ll be hanging around with you good folk for a while.

A couple of weeks ago, my longtime friend and fellow word pusher Kevin Killiany asked me to join the fun here on a regular basis. I’d already provided a couple of guest blogs over the past year or so and I was actually contemplating a third such invitation from Liane. That’s when I received Kevin’s call to add my particular flavor of madness to an already groovy rotation of fine writers. “Sounds like fun,” I thought to myself, and so here we are.

Some people might view that last sentence as a warning. Go with your gut.

So, what’s my story? I’ve been writing professionally since I sold my first short fiction piece to Pocket Books’ first-ever Star Trek: Strange New Worlds contest way back in 1997. Since then, I’ve managed to cobble together something resembling a writing career while holding down a full-time “regular” job. I’ve written or co-written more than a dozen novels along with a bunch of short fiction, magazine articles, web content, and a few other odd things along the way. I’ve had a very nice run of good fortune. I keep expecting UPS or FedEx to airdrop the other shoe any day now. Until that happens, I do my best to “pay it forward” when and where I can, which is why I agreed to become a Novel Spacer.

“Oh, come on, Dayton!” I can hear someone shouting from the cheap seats. “Give us some juicy details!” Well, I guess it seems only fair, before I begin my reign of terror tour of duty here at Novel Spaces, that I share some other background tidbits:

  • I don’t have an “online persona” and a “real world” persona. I’m the same person in both realms. For better or worse, what you see or read is what you get.

  • There were only three Star Wars movies. I’ve heard rumors about other films bearing the Star Wars moniker, but I refuse to heed such unsubstantiated tripe.

  • What? Something writing-related? Okay, here’s a big one: I don’t believe in “writer’s block” or “finding my muse.” What I do believe is that those are euphemisms for “I don’t feel like writing today.” Other variations on this condition are, “Hey! A Deadliest Catch marathon!” or, “Wow, my DVD collection could sure use organizing...by genre, title, director, and gaffer.” I can sympathize with the feeling, as I have to juggle writing in and around the day job, my wife, two young daughters along with all the activities which come with said offspring, and other demands on my time. I don’t have the luxury of waiting for a muse to show up. A deadline is my muse, as is the paycheck that’s often attached to it. Writing and expecting to get paid for it carries the same demands as any other job. I know there are people who will take issue with my stance on this, but chances are they’re not paying for my mortgage or my kids’ tuitions.

    (It’s quite possible this topic will be subjected to further examination in a future column. Stay tuned.)

  • I like Mountain Dew. Okay, “like” is too soft a word. I’m of the unwavering belief that Mountain Dew is created from the tears of the goddess Aphrodite herself. Oral ingestion is my preferred method of intake, but in an emergency where I’m unable to make such decisions for myself, let this blog entry serve as my advance directive authorizing the intravenous administering of this vital fluid.

  • While I certainly don’t want you to feel that you’re wasting your time reading anything I bring to the table, I don’t and won't claim to be an expert in any subject, much less writing. Any advice I offer will usually carry some variation of that disclaimer, even though it almost always will come to you by way of my personal and professional experiences in this business...the good, the bad, the funny, and the infuriating. Your mileage can and will vary. Heck, my mileage varies from project to project.

As you’ve hopefully surmised, I lean toward keeping things light and casual. I aim for the same basic tone on my own blog, even if I’m attempting to present thoughts on a serious topic or if I’m just pissed off about something. Ultimately, I want to have fun here, even if and when we might be talking “serious writerly business,” and I want you to have fun reading and commenting on whatever words I sling into this space.

Okay, enough goofing off for one column. Now that my “introduction” is out of the way, we’ll be sure to cover an actual...you know...topic of some sort next time. Until then? Write On, fellow scribes.


KeVin K. said...

Man, I knew you were going to lay this on me. Really, folks, it was all his idea. He, um, threatened me. Yeah, that's it. He -- Oh, never mind.

Dayton and I have had a twelve-year-old relationship for about twelve years now. We acted like twelve-year-olds when we first met and we still act like twelve-year-olds.

About everything except writing. Don't get distracted by his p'shaw and aw-shucks, the man can -- and routinely does -- lay down some solid prose. It should be noted that one of the high points of my early writing career was winning an award named after him.

So pay attention, fellow writers. There's a goodly amount of gold mixed in with that organic botanical growth enhancing material he spreads around.

Dayton, good to have you aboard, sir.

Randy Johnson said...

Nice column. The Mountain Dew thing was a revelation. I'm Diet Mountain Dew myself(diabetes long ago took me off the hard stuff).

Charles Gramlich said...

Welcome to our group. Good to have you with us. I too am a Dewaholic. I don't always drink soda, but when I do I choose Mt. Dew. I also don't believe in writer's block.

Liane Spicer said...

Welcome, Dayton! We look forward to whatever brand of madness you choose to bring aboard. Kevin obviously hasn't clued you in but you're now a Novelnaut. That's a secret league of authors who explore the frontiers of fiction in state of the art... Oh, never mind.

You don't believe in writer's block? Maybe that's because you media tie-in writers have such an easy time of it: you work for a specified paycheque and when the work is done, you're paid. A far cry from the working in the dark and publishing in the dark thing the rest of us do.

There. Let the conflagration begin. Charles has already shredded my argument because he's not media tie-in and he shares your agnosticism.

Dayton Ward said...

At the risk of starting an "us vs. them" thing, I should point out that in addition to my media tie-in work, I also write a lot of stuff for open submission markets, or even just "on spec." Those markets have deadlines (or reading periods), as well, even if I don't know that they'll pick my story. Some of those markets pay little or nothing, but I'll go after it if it's something that interests me.

Whether it's a paying job or not, for me it's about sitting down and pushing words, be it for a contracted project or something I just want to do because it tickles my fancy. :)

Liane Spicer said...

I suspected as much, Dayton. (And there goes my attempt to start a kerfuffle. :)) So I'll amend my argument. Maybe the media tie-in builds the confidence and discipline that many of us have to struggle with in this business.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Welcome Dayton.
Good to have another guy among us novelnaughts. I'm definitely looking forward to your brand of madness.

As for writer's block, I totally agree with you. It's just an excuse for us easily distracted folks.

Dayton Ward said...

Well, I can be easily distracted, too. I'd like to blame my kids, but the truth is I can be sucked into a marathon of Batman or Six Million Dollar Man episodes if they walk into the room holding the DVDs. They're evil, but I trained them that way, so it's really my fault ;)

G said...

Interesting post.

And for the one person here on this blog who knows my history of the word "interesting", it doesn't mean that. I'm actually using it as a proper descriptive word. :D

Looking forward to learning something new from another established writer, and reading their blog musing as well.