So I’ve been off of writing for over a week now and, though I’m a little buggy about it, I think it will be okay. I really struggle with this writing thing. I wrestle with questions like, “Am I good enough?” or “Do I really want to do this?” Donald Maass wrote in Writing the Breakout Novel that many people aspire to be writers when they are growing up, but often such lofty aspirations dissipate by adulthood, and rightly so. He says that not everyone is cut out to write for a living – and that really is the cut of it, isn’t it? Writing, not for a hobby or as a vocation, but for a living. Writing to generate the necessary income one needs to live day to day, month to money, year after year. This may not be – mostly likely is not – what I’m looking for to begin with.
I do enjoy writing. I really enjoy the creative process, putting characters and scenes together, playing a god, creating whole universes, manipulating the environment to conform to my own will. I also like the praise others give about my writing (though I have never actually received such for my prose). We do live at a time and in an age where there are few if any roadblocks or gatekeepers standing in the way of a would-be writer. Those hurdles have all but been removed. The odds of “breaking out” probably haven’t increased much. I would disagree with Maass in that writing/publishing isn’t akin to a lottery. There are good writers who never see the limelight. There are great writers who never see their name on a book ever. There are manuscripts that could change life as we know it, still sweltering silently in the bottom of someone’s desk drawer for one reason or another.
I did work on edits for SEEKING LIGHT AURORA today. Not much, but enough to tell myself I did something. If I do the same tomorrow and the next day, that will quickly become habit again. I may not be actively working on my current manuscript, but at least I’m inching closer to publishing my first story. This is what I tell myself. I have two finished novels and one novella, with another novel in the midway stage. If I can get these polished up and published on Kindle then I can say I’ve tried. Nothing may happen. One or more of them may light the world on fire. No one can really say. I just need to make sure I enjoy the journey. Once a book/story is finished, it is immortalized forever. Someone may read it 100 years from now and finally “get” it. Just ask Melville. I’m convinced that the act of reading and writing are absolutely distinct from each other. They are two completely separate processes involving different factions of people in utterly different orbits. As a writer I am in the creative, drawing out from the void that which is unknown and making it light. The reader approaches the story to be drawn in, to be consumed, surrounded, immersed. The one is negatively charged while the other is positive. It is not two halves of a whole.
So, I think I will keep playing the lottery. But, of course, this is a marathon, not a sprint. And it is a complex web utilizing various component parts from grammar/writing skills to creative story telling ability (aka an overactive imagination), from editing to distribution and publishing. But just like Publisher’s Clearing House, you can’t win if you don’t enter. So I have to write the best novel I can write and then edit the hell out of it so people can get through it reasonably enough. Then I leave it to fate, to God, to the psychology of the masses. Joe Q Publish and the horde of zombies out there chasing him are the ones who make or break a writer’s career. They determine, ultimately, whether a writer writes as a vocation or as a career (i.e. gets paid). In our capitalistic, materialism culture the latter is all that matters. But what the hell do I care if I make money writing? If that’s the only reason I’m doing it I think I’m kind of wasting my time.