Dana Fredsti On Writing
Whoever it was who first said “Oh, writing is easy. It’s not a real job!” … I want to hurt you. No, seriously, even if you’re long dead, I want to pull you out of your grave and smack you around with the nearest hard object.
While writing can be easy, for me it was always because it was not attached to any real income earning potential. For instance, I used to write for escapism when I was an unhappy pre-teen displaced from San Diego to Tucson when my mom remarried. I’d spend hours composing stories in my head (I called it Dream Walking) and then writing them down. I also wrote Star Wars and Three Musketeers fan fiction with one of my friends, filling small notebooks full of half original/half borrowed from someone else’s world fiction. It was easy then.
It was also easy when I wrote for fun while working some fairly soul-crushing day jobs (oh, like the IRS, maybe?). My best friend Maureen and I started a murder mystery themed theatrical troupe, wrote scripts for this along with co-writing a murder mystery novel in… er… three weeks. The novel needed work, but we had fun writing it. Too bad it wasn’t ready to see the light of day ’cause an editor from St. Martin’s Press wanted to see it based on our query letter (mailed out before the first draft was even finished. Please note I do not recommend this strategy) so we finished it up and sent it out. He very politely rejected it. At any rate, my point here is Maureen and I made very little money at any of this, but it was fun. And it was easy.
I stopped writing for quite a few years, directing my energy to acting and theatrical combat. I found myself falling into a depression and couldn’t pinpoint the cause, until a really good therapist figured out I missed writing. She put me on a writing schedule, two hours a day, same time every day, to sit my butt down and write even if what I churned out was crap. I followed her instructions and lo and behold, even though writing was definitely not easy during the first few weeks, it did lift my depression.
I kept writing and eventually rewrote the murder mystery I’d co-written with Maureen, and got it published. I’ve since published two co-authored non-fiction books, multiple short stories and essays, three spicy genre romance novels, and three books in my Ashley Parker series (Buffy meets The Walking Dead) for Titan Books, with the third being released August 26th this year.
While I had some very fun writing sessions for all three of the Ashley books, I can say with certainty that writing them, especially the last one, was not easy. Real life interfered by throwing curve balls in the guise of job changes, relationship issues, illness, and death. Unfortunately I’d lost the ability to use my writing as a way to escape real life traumas, the way I could when I was a kid. I had to chunk my way through it, one clunky paragraph at a time, fighting the urge to lie down and sleep my way through the depression. As a result, Plague World is a darker book than originally intended.
So it was definitely not easy. But it’s also a better book, with more realistic character resolutions than it would have had if I’d been happy, healthy and angst free while writing it. And while I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon to live that life of luxury that so many people think writers have as soon as they publish their first book, it was totally worth it. I’ve learned I can write under any circumstances, push through the pain, and come out the other side. So now that my life is pretty damned good and I’m rather annoyingly happy (so I’ve been told), I’m looking forward to my next project because I may just be able to rediscover the pure joy of writing again. And the more fun it is, the more I’ll want to write. And the more I write, the bigger the chance I’ll have of quitting the day job and living that life of luxury that every writer wishes they had – which really is just the chance to write full time and pay the bills.
About Dana Fredsti
Dana Fredsti is a US-based author of *Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon* and co-author of *What Women Really Want in Bed*. She blogs frequently and has made podcast and radio appearances. She has also appeared in various zombie/horror movies projects, and worked on Sam Raimi’s *Army of Darkness* as an armourer’s assistant, sword-fighting captain, and sword-fighting Deadite.