So recently, I read a post by a writing acquaintance. She was a self-published author but she’s one of the few self-published authors who got picked up by a publisher and now her series is being reissued in trade. She was talking about how she couldn’t keep up with the quick release dates necessary for self-publishing success and how having a publisher means more distribution for her work. Which is great! I’m so happy for her!
But it made me think about what and where I’ve been with my writing, because if I thought I was unfocused last year, then this year’s been worse. Granted, until I quit one of my jobs in September, I was exhausted and working bizarre hours and stressed out and depressed, which is not a good recipe for being creative, at least for me.
I’ve written and finished two short stories this year–one is in my files, waiting for a home, and the other entered into a contest. I’m tinkering with a third short story. I have the half-written, half-organized creative non-fiction project on my computer, though I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to that. I have the beginnings of a contemporary romance, one of my Broadway romance stories. I have plot bunnies.
I’m…not terribly interested in actually writing any of them, though. And that’s fine. Writers go through cycles and phases and inspiration and wanting to hibernate and read rather than write. Maybe it’s time to fill the inspiration cup rather than piece it together in a creative piece.
I’ve had the inkling for a few years now that as much as I dream of being a full-time author, I’m probably not actually cut out for that, at least not now. I’ve enjoyed self-publishing the little bit that I’ve done, but I’m a slow writer even when the writing’s flowing, so “success”–whatever your definition of that is–is unlikely to catch me as a self-published author. And whatever, that’s fine. I’ll be thrilled when I actually finish an entire novel and self-publish that dang thing.
But I can’t write and release a book every three months. And though I’d LOVE to be agented and published by a publisher, that’s a fucking crapshoot and it comes with its own set of pressures and expectations.
So as usual, here I am going against received writing wisdom: I’m not writing everyday, I’m writing when I feel inspired to. I’m not writing for a daily word count or daily page count or writing for a specified amount of time each other; I’m writing for as long as I feel like writing, pausing and changing and mulling over where the characters can and should go next in their story. I’m trying not to obsess over story structure or the plot too much and just letting the characters lead me around their world. Because getting back to the basics of “I’m creating this character and they’re doing things in a world I’m making up and omg, wouldn’t that be cool if I wrote that into this story” is the magical bean of storywriting.
And maybe that sounds like creative writing is more of a hobby at the moment than a “serious” attempt at crafting a fictional story, but if that’s what it is and that’s what I can manage right now, then so be it.
Millennials are known for monetizing every hobby and interest we have because we’ve come of age in this recession-induced gig economy. I will finish a longer piece of writing that I’m mildly satisfied with again, at some point. And I’ll probably decide to self-publish it because I’m impatient and the publishing industry takes too damn long. And maybe some people will buy it and review it and tell their friends. That’d be cool.
I mean, it’d also be cool if a few hundred people bought it and liked it and reviewed it and then told a few hundred of their friends and so on…
So clearly, my thoughts of world domination via story aren’t completely gone 🙂