Overhead

Overhead:  That concept they lay on you at the auto dealership when you wonder why it costs $70 per hour to fix your car.

Overhead:  A life concept I too often ignore.

mechanic bill

I digress today from writing about writing per se to talk about the real-world business of writing. Specifically, is this new age better? Or just different?

Surely, we have resources we never had before. Google maps, Wikipedia, thousands … nay millions … of specialized websites. I said in the last post that I was able to scope out and define a little town in Austria right from my comfortable chair in Minnesota.

Wonderful, but …

  • Arriving home from a trip abroad, my good old HP printer doesn’t print. Turns out Apple’s latest update of its OS is probably the problem. That cost three hours and led to a new printer.
  • WordPress.com explains that my podcast hasn’t passed through to iTunes, depriving it of 80% of its listeners. Nobody knows quite why. I’m looking into a separate website. Several hours squandered there.
  • Audible/ACX, the Amazon audiobook service, hasn’t responded after having told me there’s “electrical noise” in my audition file. Serializing the first novel as a podcast is on hold.

Overhead!

I don’t know about you, but I realize I should allow for all this overhead when I set my expectations about what this wonderful world of technology promises.

Overhead … if a Tweet falls in the blogoshere and there’s no one there to ‘like’ it …

MechanicIn a prior life, I knew quite a bit about overhead.  It’s that mysterious add-on the mechanic uses to explain why a $20-dollar-an-hour guy is charged to you at 60 bucks an hour.  Or why a lawyer has to charge $400/hr.  (Never mind … lawyers never explain overhead.)

I have read quite a bit recently about writing.  There’s hardship, writer’s block, the pain of loneliness.  The creative process, like any birthing, is supposed to be painful but ultimately rewarding.  At least, that’s the take of the great writers of, say, the 19th and 20th centuries.  But those writers from days of yore (like, you know, before 2002) never seem to talk much about overhead.  Modern treatises on writing must understand that overhead is an issue, because they allude to it.  They’re often telling you that you have to “make time for writing!”  That chapter is followed by the one called Optimizing Your Social Media Platform.  The subtext is that you’d better do both.  In this connected twenty-first century of ours, everything … everything … needs a marketing component, right?

As an unpublished writer (well, almost published … see self-congratulatory post immediately preceding this one), I guess it’s my lot in life to spend a great deal of time on the pick-and-shovel work of writing.  But it does get old.

I looked back over the last several weeks, and I see that I spent my ‘writing’ time thusly:

15%

Writing blog entries (and I’m behind the sensible prescription to ‘write a short entry every couple of days and a longer one every couple of weeks’)

5%

Figuring out what the #$$% HootSuite is good for

5%

Trying to understand the byzantine kluge of software called Facebook.  (Oh, yes … they changed format a couple of weeks ago, just when I’d got used to the old one)

10%

Rewriting my pitch (aka Query) for novel #1, Hack the Yak (that’s edition 8)

7%

Reading other people’s blogs.  After all, when blogs follow you, you have to follow them …

4%

Cleaning up e-mail from the 85 blogs I follow.

17%

Getting distracted and going on bird walks to find really interesting stuff on Wikipedia, YouTube, etc., etc.

7%

Reformatting and extracting short stories and parts of current writing for submission to writing groups, as well as commenting on others’ writing.

4%

Searching for publishers, agents and literary journals to submit to (I’m mostly on vacation from that for the moment.)

26%

WRITING.  Happily creating, investigating, winding up and unwinding the story of the next novel and watching the people of the novel grow, struggle, fight and fornicate.

So, when I say, “I’m going in to write for a couple of hours,” I guess I have to multiply by 4.