She wrote her first original novel, Staying Dead, when everyone said that urban fantasy was dead. She recently sold the 10th, 11th and 12th in the Cosa Nostradamus series to Luna. Contrary as always, in 2008 she wrote The Vineart War, an alternate-historical fantasy, when everyone was looking for urban fantasy, and sold it to Pocket, where it became a 2009 Nebula nominee for best novel. She thinks being contrary's a pretty good way to run a career.
Find out more at lauraannegilman.net or follow her on Twitter: @LAGilman
Getting it Done.
There’s nothing quite like reading over your WiP and realizing that the opening segment does not exactly lead off from where you left your characters heading When Last Seen in the previous book. Fortunately I was only a few degrees off, so was able to massage things into line with a minimum of cursing and self-loathing.
But I'm not here to talk about that.
I should, I suppose. I could talk about what I did and why, and explain how this is all Totally Normal, but I find myself strangely disinclined to do so. I'm worried, I think, that someone will read it and say "oh, that's not how I do it, I must be doing it wrong" [You may be thinking "oh my god she's doing it wrong, she's an idiot," but I don't worry so much about that.]
Part of this hesitation comes from discussions during the break periods of Word War, the on-line writing workspace I belong to. We have a mixed bag of folk - some multi-published, some just starting out, some in-between, and what comes up a lot is "oh, but how do YOU (a pro) do it?" and its illicit partner "oh, but it's DIFFERENT for you, you're published, I'm not." And I cringe each time a variant of those questions/responses is trotted out, because Process is internal, not external, and nobody's brain works like mine/yours/his/hers, so nobody's process should be exactly the same, either and --
and I'm going to set this apart because I think it's really important --
When a writer starts a new project, nothing that came before matters.
Pro, amateur, hobbyist or die-trying newbie, we all sit there and face the same questions: "how do I do this? How do I tell this story to the best of my abilities, and dear dog, what if nobody likes it?"
The trick isn't to be perfect. The trick is to get past not being perfect and get it done.
The only how-to advice I ever give would-be writers is the classic "AiC" -- put your Ass in the Chair and start writing.
Everything after that? You've got to discover it for yourself.
Someone who has written-to-completion before has (hopefully) learned a few coping skills, some tricks and shortcuts that get them to the desired point with less hesitation...but they picked up new doubts and confusions along the way, because it's all a learning curve, right up to when we cover the keyboard that final time. And, each and every time, we make a new (and hopefully more interesting) mistake.
Different brains, different mistakes...different solutions and different results. And that's good. That's what creates all the different writers, and all the different stories.
So if you're reading the blog or the Twitter or the essay by Famous Writer Dude and think "oh god, that's not me, I'm never going to make it" or "I never thought of that, why didn't I think of that" in a negative, despairing way -- STOP. What works for you is what works.
Or, as I have in the sidebar of my journal, where I see it every day:
You sit down. You tell a story. You do it any damn way it comes out that works consistently for you. You hope people like it. You hope people pay you for it. You do it again. And again. That's all I got. Zen and the Art of Writer Maintenance. You can cheer me on and I can cheer you on, but in the end? In the end it's down to how you get your getting done, done. So get it done.
So how do you get it done?