Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I haven’t been blogging lately, and I’d love to say it’s because I’ve been oh-so busy writing, reading, and researching, being generally productive. In actuality, I’ve been doing a whole heaping load of not much, nothing really.
Not to say nothing has been *happening*. I had spine surgery, my husband started a second job, and we’ve been hunting for a place to live that’s resulted in us beginning to sort and pack up our things to move at the end of the month. A lot’s *happened*, but I haven’t gotten anything done. (Well, today I managed to dig out our kitchen and find our bedroom floor beneath the laundry, so that’s something, I suppose.)
Lately life has been a balancing game of investment and chances. How long can we afford to live here, how long can we afford not to live here, is the gas worth it there, can we cut our grocery bill here, when can I lift anything over five pounds?
My writing has been the same way. I have several unfinished short stories, and even more ideas that I haven’t put down. I screeched to a halt on burnout with one book, only to bounce in between three other book ideas a sentence at a time. Every time I go to write, I think, ‘what’s the chance of this getting published’ or ‘what contest could I put this in’ or ‘will this poem fit in a collection’ or ‘if I publish myself, what order would this book be best in, marketing wise?’
And honestly, it’s killed my creativity.
Much like life, I remember when writing was somewhat magical, if not easy then at least pain-free. There wasn’t chance, there wasn’t mistake, there weren’t so many make-or-break decisions.
The problem is that unlike life, writing can still be the pain-free freedom it always has been. I remember when the words were practically dragging me across the page, leaping out, without a thought to the clock other than if I had to stop, when I could continue on. With my first book, when I didn’t know the difference between self-publishing, traditional publishing, and vanity publishing, I couldn’t write enough. I finished the book and was inspired to edit it. I didn’t know where it was going and it took me to the end of several drafts. Then the publishing, the marketing, the author platform, social networking, why self-publishing is doom, why traditional publishing sticks you in a box, how everything in school began to be focused on resumes and job fairs and starting wages. And it all stopped. Hesitation. Doubt. Back tracking. Squeezing, speculating, shrinking. Three years later and not a damn thing has happened with that manuscript.
I can’t say that it’s all bad. I’m not saying writers shouldn’t be business savvy, or enjoy looking into trends in the industry, or never think about their audience. But don’t get lost in the game of cost/benefits or succumb to the indoctrination of the writing religion where the book becomes the least important part of the process, taking a backseat to sales and stats and taxes and marketing.
I get enough of that balancing our monthly expenses, why would I drag all that into my historical-paranormal-time travel?
I don’t know how to keep life out of my notebooks. The emotional and physical pain of your life and that of loved ones will always take precedent over art, no matter what. I’ve found that I may think about creative stanzas while looking out a hospital window, but it’ll be some time before it actually gets put down in some form of expression. But maybe if I put aside the profitability of those creative stanzas looking out the hospital window, I would be much better off.
I’ve definitely fallen off the writing bandwagon. But I’m realizing that the tumble wasn’t such a bad thing. It’s given me time to clear my head and really think about why I write and what I’m trying to do. The answers to these questions have been surprising. As I prepare to move, I’ve even given away some how-to-be-a-writer books (for lack of a better description) and am finally getting my stride back after some growing pains.
I hope with the next chapter of my life I can get back to doing what I love – now that I realize I still love it. That, and I can begin to live with life.
(PS – As for the blog, I’ll still have random rants and posts about the writing industry. Call it a hobby… sadistic as it may be…)