Then there are the folks who stop talking about writing. They sit their asses down in front of their computer every day and hit the keys. They aren’t the most imaginative storytellers or the best grammarians; their talents may lie in self-promotion and marketing – but they do it. They pound it out and they make their daily word count. They send their work out into the world. They smile at rejection and try again until someone says “yes”. They stick to it. They improve. They succeed.
Three years ago I stopped talking about it. I showed up every morning and hit the keys. I wrote a few essays, a couple of bad short stories (seriously bad) and several poems – one even found its way into an on-line anthology. I attempted to maintain two blogs and wrote a guest post for Jane Friedman. In case you missed it, it’s here. Oh yeah – almost forgot – I also wrote my first novel. And the moment I typed “the end” I began my second.
Meanwhile, I bought the “how to” books and subscribed to the magazines that made me feel like I was part of the club. I attended the Stanford Publishing Conference and then the San Francisco Writer’s Conference intent on learning the business of writing. And, at the end of the day, writing is a business. I continue to attend a critique group every week without fail and even, for a time, had a mentor.
And then, about three weeks ago, I stopped. I hit the Mother of All Blocks, equivalent in size to the Great Wall of China with a Berlin chaser. Except for an essay I’ve been noodling around with, this confessional blog post is the only work I’ve done.
I’ve simply run out of steam.
The problem is, I believed that after thirty-six months I’d have more to show for my dedication. Yes, I’m smiling as I type, because I know with absolute certainty that, in a writer’s life, thirty-six months is nothing. But in these days of immediacy and constant contact we’re conditioned to believe it all happens overnight. It doesn’t.
And so I find myself standing on the ledge asking myself this question: what is it that I want, and how badly do I want it? Is it more important to be a good writer or a popular one? And is the sacrifice worth it?