Blogging Interjection

We interrupt the Saga to bring you an out-of-schedule, mid-month, blogging commentary.

I hate John Scalzi.

Scalzi not only writes Hugo-nominated sf novels but has a kick-ass blog, Whatever. For 14 years, he’s been writing almost daily “about whatever John Scalzi feels like writing on”. The blog has spawned a Hugo-winning book of its own, Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998–2008 (Subterranean 2008), Hugo Award for Best Related Book in 2009.

This isn’t my usual measuring myself against the success of others, although there is an element of that. This arose specifically from his writing advice. I was having a Sorrows of Young Werther moment – the details of which I will spare you. Part of the wallowing was to splurge on a Kindle edition of Scalzi’s Redshirts (Tor 2012) instead of waiting for the paperback. I read it overnight, including during the thunderstorm while an 80-pound German Shepherd [Critters] tried to sit in my lap. What is it with dogs & storms? I’ve never had a cat freak out at thunder. But I digress.

As part of my blogging education, I keep lists of blogs & sites to follow, thus the Fellow Travelers page. [Feature discontinued. Too much updating. KTW] Reading Redshirts reminded me of the blog book, which lead me to check out Whatever, which lead me to one of his writing advice posts. He’s yaps on about the difference between writing for yourself/the Great American Novel/pursuit of art and writing professionally. He assumes a base level of competence,

“This is not the document in which I bolster your fragile ego and affirm your status as a real live writer. Go deal with that yourself. Somewhere else. Preferably away from me.”

Ability to string sentences together – have that. He emphasizes that writing is relatively low-paying – knew that – and a lot of work.

“I work, damn it. I work hard, I work a lot, and I do a lot of writing that’s not typically what you’d call ‘fun.’ ”

As I’m reading along, nodding my head, a suspicion begins to creep up on me. Am I working hard? Have I done everything I could for riding, writing, housekeeping, {insert project here}? For writing, I can’t control whether the The New Yorker ever employs me. I can’t control the amount of talent I have. The one thing – the only thing – I can control is how much effort I put in. Repeat for the other areas of my life. Am I working hard? Pretty sure I know the answer to that one.

From now on, before I start whining, I will engage in the following conversation:

Have I given this project as much effort as I am capable of?
Then shut up.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to get some work done.

Thpppft to you, Mr. Scalzi.

(Personal sanity note: I do not reject the need for downtime. Sitting on my tuchus all day yesterday indubitably helped me feel better today. It’s a little about changing the amount of work I do and a lot about restricting my whining license. Work? Not work? Cool. However, no work = no whinging allowed.)
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