The Manuscript Factory

     Come back when you’re fresh and work like hell. Two in the morning, noon, eight at night, work if you feel like it and be damned to the noise you make. After all, the people who have to hear you are probably fed by you and if they can’t stand it, let them do the supporting. I take sprees of working at night, and then sleep late into the day. Once in the country farmers baited me every day with that unforgivable late slumber. It didn’t worry me so much after I remembered that I made in a month what they made in a year. They think all writers are crazy, take the writer’s license and make the best of it.

     But don’t pretend to temperament. It really doesn’t exist. Irritation does and is to be scrupulously avoided.

     When all the arty scribblers (who made no money) talked to a young lady and told her that they could not write unless they were near the mountains, or unless they had the room a certain temperature, or unless they were served tea every half-hour, the young lady said with sober mien, “Me? Oh, I can never write unless I’m in a balloon or in the Pacific Ocean.”

     One thing to remember. It seems to work out that your writing machine can stand just so much. After that the brain refuses to hand out plots and ideas.

     It’s like getting a big contract to sell your soap to the navy. You make bad soap, ruin the vats with a strong ingredient and let the finer machinery rust away in its uselessness. Then, when the navy soap contract ceases to supply the coffee and cakes, you discover that the plant is worthless for any other kind of product.

      Such is the case of the writer who sees a big living in cheap fiction, turns it out to the expense of his vitality, and finally, years before his time, discovers that he is through. Only one writer of my acquaintance can keep a high word output. He is the exception, and he is not burning himself out. He is built that way.

     But the rest of us shy away from too cheap a brand. We know that an advanced wage will only find us spending more. Soon, when the target for our unworthy efforts is taken down, we discover that we are unable to write anything else. That’s what’s meant by a rut.

      As soon as you start turning out stories which you do not respect, as soon as you start turning them out wholesale over a period of time, as soon as your wordage gets out of control, then look for lean years.

      To get anywhere at all in the business, you should turn out the best that’s in you and keep turning it out. You’ll never succeed in pulp unless you do, much less in the slicks.

      If you start at the lowest rung, do the best job of which you are capable, your product, according to economic law, will do the raising for you. Man is not paid for the amount of work in labor-hours, he is paid for the quality of that work.

The Manuscript Factory continued...



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