Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sit and Write - Marty Young - Biggest 'Ah-ha!' Moments in Writing

It happened only recently, believe it or not. I’ve been sitting here over the past few years, watching friends and colleagues have short story collections published and novels released, get awards and recognition for their hard work, and I’ve been sitting here watching their careers pass me by. It’s been frustrating. Annoying. I’ve felt both immensely proud and extremely jealous of them.

But it’s my fault, because I haven’t been doing the one thing they have, and that’s writing. Sitting down before my computer, and writing. I’d call myself a writer but then couldn’t be arsed putting in the time to actually write.

A simple review of my output over the past four years highlights this in bright, fluorescent clarity; since 2009 I have written a total of eleven short stories (9 of which have been published). That’s 2.75 stories a year on average, or 4.4 months per short story! At 5,000 words a story, my output equates to about 38 words a day. There’s a word for that: pathetic.

As I said, it struck me just recently after listening to friends explain their writing process; you actually have to sit down and write, not pretend to write, but write. And you have to do this every day if you can, for hours at a time. It is the only way to be a writer. The only way.

I’ve put this into practice this year, and in a little over 6 months, I have constructed the outline for 13 short stories and so far completed first drafts or more for 8 of them. I’ve also written a comic script, a 70,000 word novel, plus a 45,000 word novella. I was never any good at maths so I can’t tell you how much of an improvement that is in numbers, but it’s pretty obvious in words.

It turns out you can accomplish a hell of a lot when you sit down and actually write.

Marty Young is a Bram Stoker nominated and Australian Shadows award winning editor, fiction and non-fiction writer, and sometimes ghost hunter. He was the founding President of the Australian Horror Writers Association from 2005-2010, and one of the creative minds behind the internationally acclaimed Midnight Echo magazine, for which he also served as Executive Editor until mid-2013.

His horror fiction has been nominated for both the Australian Shadows and Ditmar awards, reprinted in Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror (‘the best of 2008’), and repeatedly included in Ellen Datlow’s year’s best recommended reading list. Marty’s essays on horror literature have been published in journals and university textbooks in Australia and India, and he is also co-editor of the award winning Macabre; a Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, a landmark anthology showcasing the best Australian horror stories from 1836 to the present.

Marty’s first novel, 809 Jacob Street, will be published in late October by Black Beacon Books.

You can find his website here.

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