Tuesday, March 22

Am I Truly a Writer and Other Questions for the Universe

Winter has literally disappeared and I’m damned if I know what happened to it. One minute it was Thanksgiving and we were eating turkey and the next, it’s almost Easter and the crocuses are blooming. My personal life has been an upheaval of joys and sorrows lately, but I’ve been working practically nonstop all winter long. Editing gigs are always a good thing, except they interfere ferociously with my writing time. If I work for eight or ten hours, I’m loathe to sit down at the computer again after supper.

But yesterday, I worked on the new Women of Willow Bay book and finished a whole new chapter. Now, I’m aching to continue writing—Libby and Nick's tale is brewing and so is Sarah's story—you remember Sarah from the women's shelter store in Chicago in Sex and the Widow Miles? And the time travel story sends me to my notebook as ideas keep cropping up. I love that feeling when the creative juices are flowing. It’s almost sensual. I can spend hours world-building and refining characters and bringing a story to life, and I come away exhausted, but exhilarated. The current story sloshes around in my brain even when I’m not at the computer—while I’m driving, vacuuming, standing at the kitchen sink, characters knock at the door of my mind begging to be let out. When that happens, it’s as if I’ve found my true calling, my life’s work. But then life and work  interfere again . . .

So many of my fellow IRWA authors are amazing and so prolific that I’m constantly in awe of their abilities to produce story after story. I get distracted by life, but they steam through almost anything and continue writing. I really would love to be like that when I grow up as a writer, but maybe it’s not my style to be so prolific. Maybe I’m not going to crank out books at a fantastic rate. Frequently, when I’m dispirited and wondering if I’m any kind of a writer at all, I have to remind myself that I’ve already had four books published. Four books in four years . . . that's not all that bad.

I’ve thought about letting the editing go for a while and just concentrating on writing, but I’m too much of a coward. The day job pays for necessities like health insurance and  pleasures, like the lake cottage and boat gas, pedicures, and trips to see my grandson. I want those things too, so does that mean that I’m not focused enough on the craft to be a truly successful writer?

When I’m writing, I’m happy, complete. When I’m not writing, I’m worrying about not writing, but I also love my work and getting paid and lunches with my sister and cruising on the lake with Husband on a warm sunny afternoon. Should I be sacrificing more for my art? More willing to give up pleasures in order to write? Or is it enough for me to write when I can? I don’t know, I’m asking . . . that’s the question for the Universe today. Am I truly a writer if I’m not obsessed with writing?

6 comments:

  1. If sacrificing for your art is part of the job description, we wouldn't have such fun buying toys for it! :-) Writing doesn't have to be an obsession--it's just part of who we are, and aren't we the lucky ones!

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    1. True enough, Liz, true enough on all points! We are very lucky!

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  2. I agree with Liz - writing doesn't have to be an obsession, and it shouldn't be The Only Thing You Do. I mean, if all you do is write/sleep/write/sleep, where will you find that new kernal of an idea? Lunches with other writers (or sisters!), an afternoon with Grandboy, a day spent people-watching...all of those lead to more scene ideas and more stories. And we get to write about it!

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    1. Thanks, Kristina--it's true nothing in life should be an obsession, but don't you know writers for whom it is? When I'm around them, I start feeling like a slacker...but we all do things at our own pace, I think and with our own degree of commitment. ;-)

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  3. Sometimes we need reality to keep our obsessions live and well. Great post.

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  4. I think living our lives is what gives us the fuel to write--that's my theory and I'm sticking to it. Great post!

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