I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given up writing over the years. Countless times, when I threw down the pen in despair, anger, or even boredom. I’d stay away for a month, a year, a sequence of years. But inevitably, I’d miss it. I had a sense I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing, and so I’d begin again, with a renewed sense of purpose.
With the most recent reclaiming of the pen several years ago, I vowed never to put it down again. To commit to it once and for all and see where it took me. And I’m holding to that. I’m a writer, and there’s nothing I can do to remedy the situation.
But lately I’ve been going through a crisis, of sorts; not so much whether or not I’ll continue to write, but what direction I want to take it in. I primarily consider myself a fiction writer, and I’ve compiled stacks of stories in various forms- short stories, novellas, a few novels. I’m just beginning to exert a concentrated effort on getting some of these stories published, and let me tell you: It’s really hard.
You have to be a certain kind of person to take rejection after rejection, and still keep writing. Even with self-publishing, you have to be prepared for deafening silence after you hit the Publish button (and be prepared to spend a lot of time promoting to change that). After a while, a little voice begins to whisper evil things into your ear. Things like Why bother? Why spend endless hours of your life, devote so much of your heart and mind, to something that returns so little on your investment?
Used to be, the answer to this question was-for the joy. Before I actively started to submit my stories for publication, I wrote for the sheer joy of creation it offered me. But lately, I haven’t been feeling the joy. I’ve lost that loving feeling for writing fiction.
One reason is the aforementioned difficulty in standing out from the giant slush pile that is modern publishing. Another reason is that I’ve discovered blogging. It’s ironic how much I had initially hated the idea of blogging. I have no published work. What could I possibly talk about? And who would care? But it turns out, I love it. Obviously, it’s a much more relaxed forum for writing, and while I put a good deal of thought and effort into each post, there’s no pressure for greatness. I don’t have to be brilliant. It’s just me dishing on things that I’ve always enjoyed-books, movies, television, whatever comes up that moves me or makes me think. It’s fun. It’s a joy, if you will, and that’s a great motivator. And people read the blog. Not many, mind you; I’ve only got 25 followers, but that’s 25 more than those who read my fiction. It’s an actual, dynamic relationship between writer and reader, and that’s gratifying.
So what do I do? Give up fiction writing and blog exclusively? I can’t see myself ever doing that. I have a need for stories, not only other people’s stories, but my own. The key is to find the joy again. And that means writing for fun and not for publication, at least for awhile. I have a couple of short stories out on submission, and we’ll see how they do. I have three stories on Amazon, and they’ll always be there. But right now, I need to play. That might mean flash fiction stories for the blog. Or delving into the world of fan fiction. Or just filling notebooks with ideas, character sketches, dialogue, with no pressure for a brilliant, finished product.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some serious playing to do.