Mark Terry

Monday, September 21, 2009

What's Your Business?

September 21, 2009
This morning I got up early, dropped my youngest off at middle school, then went up to the high school to help out with the intro to guitar classes. I've written about this before.

Now, there are a lot of reasons why I'm thinking this, and lots of blank looks and general "duh" responses on the part of a bunch of teenagers is certainly a factor.

But by far the biggest factor was this: what's your business, Mark?

My business is to write.

Sometimes novels. Sometimes magazine articles. Sometimes business reports. Sometimes web content. Sometimes short stories, directories, reviews, etc. And if I don't, if I can't get people to pay me to do this or I don't spend enough time on it, I'm going to find myself back working for somebody doing work I don't really care about.

Business has been a bit slow lately, so it seemed like an OK time to take 3+ hours out of my workweek to volunteer to help some kids who probably don't want it. And I think the teacher needs it and appreciates it, but I'm still back to, "Uh, this really isn't my job, is it?"

It's easy to get distracted. God knows once a book gets published writers are getting eaten alive by commitments to marketing and publicity. My friend Joe Moore is reading Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and commented on a blog that no wonder it took 6 years to write, based on the amount of research in the book.

Well, I haven't read it, but, "Bullshit."

It took Dan Brown six years to write it because he was overwhelmed with publicity nonsense for The Da Vinci Code and because, financially, he could take 6 years off between books. I'm sure he'd have gotten it out in the usual one-year time period if TDVC had sold the same as his 3 previous books.

A writer's job is to write and sometimes you need to close the door to the office, turn off the frickin' Internet, shut down your phone, e-mail, text messages and the rest of the universe and just write.

Am I the only person with this problem?



Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

"Am I the only person with this problem?"

Well, here it is the middle of the workday and I am reading your blog and commenting. Does that answer your question?

9:28 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...


9:44 AM  
Anonymous Christine said...

I'm with you on taking 6 years for Dan Brown to do his research. I've read about a third of the book, and yes, I'm enjoying it in an escapist fiction kind of way. But so far all the research for this one was actually done for DA VINCI CODE; he's using the research over again.

10:28 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks said...

Ditto, Eric.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

No, you're not alone. I don't see how I could live without the internet, but it's distracting. It sorta helps when Glenn's here, because I'm not looking to the internet for daily connecting with people, LOL.

I use Focus Booster and Instant Boss to set a certain number of minutes of focus and a certain number of minutes of putzing.

Er, I also installed Rescue Time, which tracks how much time I spend with each application and/or website. The first time I spent 10 hours writing and discovered I only actually spent 3 hours with my document was an eye-opener, LOL. Hence, I installed the above two programs, LOL.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Agreed on all points. First of all, someone with Dan Brown's fortune also likely pays a researcher, so give me a break.

As for do I get paid . . . I do a lot of volunteer work. In fact, enough that I can reasonably say some to most weeks, it's 10-15hours . . . Because of what it is (social ministry), I am cool with that. But I agree that to survive--literally just survive--as a f/t writer, you need to work it. And I mean with total focus. I have been in the unfortunate position (this year) that a 9-year retainer gig paying me very big bucks . . . ended. Because it was a time-consuming gig at times, I hadn't overly networked in a while. Big mistake. At the same time, two publishers I work for as an editor are doing more and more work overseas (India, specifically), and also e-products.


5:11 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I think the guitar class was the easiest to ditch and the most obviously disruptive. I've also spent a lot of time over the last couple months on the e-newsletter, which is turning out to be a failure. I'll put in, I think, one more issue, but it's time to cut bait on that one, too, I think. Sometimes you just have to focus on what's working for you. I volunteer on a lot of other things, so it's not like I'm being totally selfish, but priorities are priorities.

5:42 AM  

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