There is something about getting published that has always bugged me, although electronic publishing has fixed this to a degree. Getting published costs money. Lots of little costs to be sure, but the costs add up. Consider the cost of mailing letters of inquiry and partial or whole manuscripts. Then there’s the cost of printing. Even if you do it at home, printing a 1,000 page manuscript is pricey. (At 10 cents per copy, that’s $100.) Most sources, from what I’ve read, recommend that your manuscript be reviewed by at least three objective reviewers outside your immediate family. Okay, so that’s 3,000 double spaced pages ($300). The reviewers should be objective, like members of your writers group. You belong to one right?
I did for a while and it was very positive – to a point. At their Saturday meetings, they had guest speakers talk about writing and it was a chance for networking. They also had several working groups that met at various times during the week. They even sponsored a convention attended by nationally published writers and agents. Besides yearly dues ($35), there was a fee to attend the convention ($75-$180), and for an additional fee you could schedule a one-on-one with an agent ($20 or 3 for $50). From what I understand the cost of this convention is one of the less expensive ones.
Okay, I guess I could afford the above mentioned expenses since I do have a day job, but there’s something else very important to consider – time. I’ve looked at my schedule and by the time I subtract work (40 hours), commuting (8 hours), and sleep (56 hours) from the available 168 hours in a week, I’m left with 64 hours for writing, right? If the hours are distributed through the week I have 6.4 hours each weeknight, 16 hours on Saturday, and 16 hours on Sunday. Wow, that’s 3,328 hours a year for writing. With those numbers I should be able to pump out a dozen novels a year. Let’s see, at a moderate speed of 1,800 words per hour that’s a production rate of 5,990,400 words a year. Using the minimum for Hugo Award definition of a novel (>40,000 words) 3,328 hours should generate 149.76 novels per year. Wow!
Well, the metrics seem to suggest at the rate of one novel and a few short stories completed over the past, say, six years my dedication to writing is woefully under served. Using metrics is an incredibly cold and calculating method of describing the writing production process. In some circumstances metrics are necessary. For instance, metrics are essential to contracting technical documents. But metrics can also be applied to any type of writing and helps you to establish a habit of writing, say three hours a day, every day. Three hours is reasonable, but you might have to miss “House M.D.”, “The Big Bang Theory”, and “Hawaii Five-O”. Certainly you can stand to sequester yourself for that long and focus on what is hopefully your passion.
Something else to consider after reading the metrics I threw together. There are a number of necessities I didn’t account for, such as personal hygiene, family obligations (such as weddings, vacations, and helping your son tile his bathroom). Oh, yeah, and there’s thinking, just thinking, trying to mentally see where the words are taking you before they become canonized in your story. All these things are things you have to do and they can take an enormous amount of time. A few lost weekends and you’ll find that what the few minutes you get to yourself where you can concentrate on your craft are like gold.
© Copyright 2011 by Kevin Fraleigh.