I go back to freelancing in less than a week. The paper wants me back, and a good friend (former news editor) just came back to the communities desk. Meaning I'll have two desks to work for, plus a feature-length piece planned for sometime in February. The research can't be started until Monday, but once it does, I'll be thinking about, chasing down, or transcribing interviews until press day. Leaves little time for writing given my past operating procedure.
I need to change that. Not just because I haven't submitted anything decent since last year. Any kind of writing is an exercise. It needs regular, constant practice. I get it in spades for hard news, broadcast writing, even the odd feature-piece or two. But fiction? Forget it. I average about 2,000 words a day of transcribing, taking notes, drafts. Having the energy to hop off the train, flop down in my chair, and pound out 1,000 new words a day didn't seem possible a few months ago.
It should. It must. If I can't hack it now, as a freelancer on the bottom of the totem pole with no editorial duties, then it's not happening. There's a job opening in four months for a news editor position at my paper. No way in hell am I keeping up editing, reporting, and writing fiction at the same time. Not if I can't do this now.
I entered journalism to keep my thumb firmly on the pulse of the world, and pay the bills. Forgetting fiction for the sake of that defies the underlying rationale: life to inspire and infuse art. I can't make a living off of fiction. I'm not that good, I don't have the time, and my bank account isn't bottomless. If the result is chaining myself to a news desk for the rest of my life, forget it. I'm out.
I've got a grace period. Tuesdays, into Wednesday night. That's the time between the paper going to press and the editors finishing their pitches and assigning stories for the next week's issue. Twenty-four hours, give or take. I could live with writing once a week if I got that sort of time to plug away at projects.
The plan is to submit two, maybe three short pieces to fiction magazines. Toronto's got a whole 'zine community I've barely explored. Haven't had the time. Or so I've said. Finishing at least the first draft of "arachnae.we" by April is also on the list. Getting starting on the rewrites for "Pit Stop" or "Instant Gratification" by then wouldn't hurt. If there's time left, Black Library and a few Eclipse Phase magazines are always looking for submissions. I don't have qualms about tie-in fiction, fan-fiction, whatever they're calling it these days. If it's good writing, it's good writing.
"Paragons" is going to become a fixture at this place. I hope.