[I exited out of this post and thought it was lost. Thank you, WordPress, for saving it!]
This might seem to be a strange blog post but it’s a question that’s crossed my mind lately. Mainly, because writing has been kind of hard.
A lot of it is pressure I put on myself. I know how important it is how to write quickly, because it’s a matter of survival. In writing, if you don’t release things often enough, you drop off the face of the Earth, which is sort of what’s been happening to me lately. Add to that a new program that allows people to download all the books they want for free as long as its enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (which I’m not a part of it, because I don’t want readers on other devices to suffer…to be in the program, I have to be Amazon exclusive), things have definitely been slowing down.
When I write and release quickly, I do well, but when things slow down…well, a whole wrench gets thrown in the system. You can’t deal with that pressure by running away from it, but only by facing it head on. I’ve done alright writing, but not so alright to the point where I can just check out, which I will admit, I’ve thought about doing (not realistically, otherwise it’d be back to the salt mines for me).
Lately, I’ve been learning to slow down, not to expect instant results, and not to feel inspired all the time, and not to panic when everything I write seems to be boring and dumb.
Writing is difficult, because to do it well, you have to be everything that’s opposite of what we’ve been taught by society to be. In society, gratification is expected to be instant, whereas in writing, the work is never, ever done. It’s downright painful sometimes – maybe all of the time. That’s why so few people are writers. It’s difficult and things can change very quickly. You can do everything “right” and still fall on your face.
I’ll be in the middle of writing and I’ll have the irresistible urge to clean something. I hate cleaning. The fact that cleaning becomes preferable to writing says a lot.
I think there’s a false conception that writing is always fun. Sure, it is a lot of the time. At least lately, though, it hasn’t been for me. It’s work. There’s a lot of truth to the writer’s axiom: “I don’t like writing, but i like having written.”
I know I’m complaining. This is one of those jobs where you’re not allowed to complain or feel sorry for yourself (both of which are things I’m pretty bad about). If I complain to anyone about it, it’s like, “oh, you do your dream job for a living, boohoo.” They’re totally right, but still…can I just complain? Just once?
Writing gives an incredible amount of freedom. It sounds absolutely amazing, but as they say, with freedom comes responsibility. You can’t have won without the other…at least, not for long. There’s no one to watch your back and see that you’re writing. Responsibility has never been my strong suit. I’m an inherently selfish person. What I do know is, however, is when I’m not responsible for all this freedom I have, I feel like crap.
The biggest temptation for me, working on my own, is to do anything else besides writing until the inspiration comes back. And that attitude is destructive…mainly because I’m only going to feel inspired one out of three times I sit down to write, and at that pace, the book will get done way too slowly for my liking. While there is a danger in going too fast, it’s far worse for me to go too slow, because then I lose sight of the project and the tone in the beginning ends up being different from the tone in the end, and it can lead to all sorts of other issues.
I guess writing full-time has been a little different than what I expected. Six months after leaving my job, I can honestly say that. I was arrogant enough to think I’d be writing a book a month, even telling my fans to expect releases much more quickly. Oh, the hubris. It’s been the exact opposite. It’s been a little disenchanting to see the charm of my lifelong dream wear off after a mere few months. It doesn’t even feel special anymore to tell people I’m a full-time writer. Isn’t that crazy? I know it is, but still, it’s something I’ve always known. No matter how good that “one thing” we’re seeking is, after a while it becomes old news and we look for something else.
All that’s left is me and the work, and the answers are simple, but never easy. I’m trying to enjoy the work and the journey rather than the destination. The destination is an illusion, because it’s always fluid. Lately, I’ve been telling myself to slow down and enjoy the process more. Not as in slow down the writing, but when I’m sitting down at the computer, staring at the screen, to not expect everything to magically appear or to drop out of the sky. Almost 50,000 words into the story, when the middle of the novel would be near wrapping up in my other novels, I’m still trying to find what this story is, exactly. I’ll find it at some point, and once I do, I’m sure the writing will come a lot faster. Until then, I just have to be patient and keep working. When this first draft is done, it will need a lot of work.
Nothing good ever comes from wishing. You have to find it. I lived a lot of my life that way. I wanted to be a writer, but I did very little writing. Many writers are like this. Then, I just started to write, deciding that it was something I was just going to do. That was how The Wasteland Chronicles came about. The beginning was rough, but in the end, the series transcended far beyond what I ever intended. It has been the closest I’ve come to writing something that matched my vision, and even going beyond at some point. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do in the series…and there are definitely dull moments in it and it’s far from perfect…but for what it’s worth, I’m very proud for having written it.
I look forward to the challenge of this new series…or at least, that’s what I’m trying to tell myself. The world is very different, as four hundred years might be expected to do. My main fear is the world will be so alien that it might not be even recognizable to readers, in the same way the year 2000 would be unrecognizable to someone from 1600. Hopefully I can make the world come to life for the reader and that I can make a complicated thing easy to understand. I’m still in the process of trying to make myself understand.
I don’t want this to come off like I’m ungrateful. I’m definitely not. Maybe it’s just the dreary weather outside. I wouldn’t be anywhere else and I have it insanely good. Enough complaining. Back to work!
That said, I’m 50,000 words into this novel and I think this one is a keeper. After quite a few false starts, it’s at least going somewhere. The issue is tying everything together in a satisfying way.