Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

I must really love this.

It’s a little after six in the morning. I’ve already been up two hours revising the next Silo Story. I can’t tell if this is a healthy obsession or not, but it’s certainly an obsession.

I was interviewed recently (more about this on Monday, I hope), and the reporter asked me how long I’d been writing and how many titles I had available on Amazon. After some quick mental math, she sounded more than a little stunned about the output. I cringed, knowing what she was thinking. My work must be complete bunk, an unreadable, stinking, steaming, mess.

Maybe, but that has nothing to do with my output. I think most authors could write this much if only they would . . . write this much.

I have a lot of friends who write. Some of them go weeks without jotting down a word. I just had lunch the other week with a very well-known and top-earning author who has had success in both the traditional and Kindle realms. He casually mentioned that he hadn’t written a thing since Christmas. Like this was normal. Since Christmas, I’ve written two novels and started a few others. And it isn’t because I’m a fast writer; I really wanted to explain this to the nice reporter. It’s because I do little else.

Yesterday, by the time I stopped for lunch, I had spent seven hours revising the next Silo Story. It’s because I started at 5 AM.

Now, I am in no way suggesting that this is an intelligent or sane degree of focus. No way. And I’m not calling any other writer lazy. Hell, I’m jealous. I would love to go two or three months without writing a word. That must be lovely! Think of all the reading I could catch up on!

No, I’m just confessing to the level of mania and single-mindedness with which I’ve attacked this hobby. And I’ve been maintaining this level of focus and determination for three years. As I mentioned in a recent post, I used to write in the morning before work, during my lunch hour, and again when I got home. I spent the weekends writing, and I continue to spend my weekends writing. None of this can be adequately conveyed, not on my blog and certainly not in an interview. It’s sad that my self-criticism allows this prodigious output to be sensed as a weakness rather than a strength. I worry that readers will feel that I’m rushing things, when I am in truth babying the hell out of them. Babying them for hours and hours every single day.

Here’s a confession for you: I’m not all that good at this, people. I’m really not. I just work my ass off on it.

And I love every sleepless moment.

19 replies to “I must really love this.”

You shouldn’t compare yourself because you have your own processes to go through before you can be satisfied with the end product. If that means spending a lot more time on it… then what can you do? Truth is everyone has their own threshold for what can be considered passable in their eyes. Anything less than that, people tend to either scrap the idea or work with it until it becomes worthy enough to send out into the world.

For instance, I’ve been ruminating on my drawing for the past week or so. It’s definitely not done and I’m not entirely sure how far I want to take it as I’m not professional in regards to art. Tons of revisions and still I’m not satisfied with it entirely to move on to something else for the drawing.

http://i.imgur.com/bSzMw.png

But I feel like it’s okay enough to show, but not enough to call it finished. So, Hugh, spend as much time as you need until you are able to be satisfied with the next story because there are a ton of people who can understand that hard work pays off.

Nisays. My eyes are watering. Holy crap! Okay, I’m actually crying. That is BEAUTIFUL! I feel like I’m SEEING Jules for the first time.

What an amazing, singular, rewarding experience. I’ve never had one of my characters brought to life, visually, before.

It really is beautiful. And you’re right. We all have to work on things as much or as little as we feel compelled. And I hope you’ll feel compelled to continue with your art. You are brilliant. When you feel “finished,” let me know. E-mail me or something.

I’m just blown away. You people amaze me.

Also… I could spend the next three years writing every second of the day… it means nothing if I don’t have the skill/talent… (And I does think that everyone would agree) you, however, DO…

Hugh…you cannot compare yourself to another – if they don’t write, it’s fine; but if you feel the need and the characters are wanting out, what else can you do? They’ll beat on the back of your eyeballs till you let them out. Same for my quilts. Whether I’m in a business meeting, or sitting in a parking lot somewhere waiting; if the idea strikes, the quadrille paper and pencils come out and my head goes down till it’s drawn. I carry color pencils, quadrille, and a #2 lead pencil – JUST IN CASE. Some use equilt, some quilt by following preprinted patterns. I see things in my head, and they have to come out. Keep doing what you’re doing. If the mornings are good – write. If the evenings are good – write. Your characters are wanting out of your head. Willene would be SO proud!!

Ummmm…So has Molly been trying to keep you up at nights lately?

I know, I know. Most series authors wouldn’t dream of anything less than a year or 2 more before publishing her next adventure, but dang it you’ve spoiled us with your frantic pace! ;-)

@Hugh: Ah, yes, I’m planning to try and finish it. Just staring at it, I’ve found other things to improve upon. I’m only sorry that my artistic knowledge of anatomy isn’t up to par with some of my peers in the art field! I’m sure I’m not doing Jules the justice she deserves, haha.

Nisays… there is love here man, Hot sweaty Sexy… ummm… I mean… nice, platonic, admirational love here and I want you to have mine… That’s some damn fine work mate!

Nisays – Great Job on the portrait! Really Cool! Keep it up! You are very good!
Hugh – I LOVE THE WOOL OMNIBUS!!!!! Can’t wait for April 19th!

Your obsessiveness with writing is a wonderful thing, and what it brings to all your readers lives is important. You’re a true artist and your passion bleeds into your writing. You say you’re not good at what you do, that you simply work harder. I disagree, I believe quality can be the product of hard work. You should take pride in your work ethic and not use it as an excuse for why your writing is so good. You are a great writer and your hard work will ensure your success both commercially and artistically. People will be reading the books you are writing for many years to come, I look forward to sharing them with my children when they decide to pop out. Take care, keep writing.

P.S. Nisays- That is awesome, crazy how your drawing fit what I imagined she look like in my head. You did an incredible job

Hugh, this reminds me of something my husband has always said. He’s a professional musician, and has worked as one since he was a teenager. People often stop him at gigs and gush, “you’re so lucky, I wish *I* was talented enough to play like that.” His response has always been the same: “Anyone is talented enough to play like this if they put in the hours, days, weeks, months, years of hard work!” I do think this simplifies things slightly, as I don’t think I could write like you or play like him no matter how much I worked at it — but the point is still very, very well taken. This shit don’t come easy!! Regardless, I’m glad for every sleepless hour you’ve spent, as we get to reap the rewards of your hard work. ;-)

Thanks everyone! Didn’t mean to steal some thunder from Hugh with my drawing. I hope that once I finish, people can use it to sort of visualize future iterations of Jules and other characters. It’s one thing to write descriptions of characters and the world, but to conceptualize it visually is another. I’d really like critiques when the time comes and I’ll probably post a forum thread about it when I come around to it.

I agree with Jill, she *is* Jules. It was difficult to agree on a proper actress for her part, while it seems that nisays managed to convey the true Jules character on paper.

Oh Hugh. I don’t care if you are intelligent, or sane. Hell, I don’t care if you eat or sleep. I’ve read all of Mollie and Halfway Home waiting for more Wool. April 19 is circled on my calendar. Just keep on babying me.

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