I have a life. My life is full and rich. It revolves around me. Pretty sure your life revolves around you. That is something we have in common.
But, this post, since I am the one writing it, is about me. Though your comments and questions can be shared below, or if you are a blogger yourself —blog away, by all means!
Sometimes I make stupid decisions that don’t set well with me. I made one recently. Stepping up to do something that I thought was great, but turned out to just piss myself and other people off. At least how I went about doing it didn’t set well with others. Doing it at all ticked me off big time.
I do that sometimes. Piss people off. Usually when I least expect it. When I don’t think through what, how, and whether or not I really have the time to do whatever it is.
I have plenty of things to do. the biggest project is to finish Sinister! What the hell was I thinking? I need to be working on that story and several others, not pissing myself and people off. (Being a horrible fiction writer is a much more pleasurable way to piss people off.)
So I did it again, or rather I didn’t do it again. I didn’t stand up for my own work choice. I chose to go back to school to study creative fiction. But did I say that? Nope, I said I went back to school to stay busy. I didn’t even mentally call myself out at the time. That took almost 48 hours and several knee jerk bad decisions later before it hit me what I had done.
I started working to be a writer as a conscious choice around 2000. Then life happened, things like my father’s death, unforeseen changes in career and family income made me put writing in a lower priority. Life evened out for a while and I had myself writing again by 2003.
For the next six years I stumbled and bumbled around. Reading and researching publishing houses, attempting a blog before blogs were cool, and looking for a formal writing program. Several decent story plots were sketched out and lay lurking way back in the pile and files, fairly productive time haphazardly spent.
Then another hiccup bounced me back out of pocket again when I decided to take that step to formal writing study. This time my mind was blown to think that I was smart enough to even consider nursing. Scratch that, the correct haunting term “nursing would be too hard” for me. Those words haunted me and when the advisor asked if there was anything else besides writing I had ever considered doing, I let that one slip.
Aren’t writers the least paid and most likely to fail career choice out there? Or is it actors? I have been blogging for several years again with more success than that first effort, but the whiff of a respectable, fiscally stable career lured me away.
Once more I broke up with writing when the advisor took a look at my transcript and college admittance test scores. Oh, yes, the grades and scores suggested that passing the nursing entrance exam was definitely possible. When it appeared that I might be smart enough, sure, I gave that entrance exam a shot, and put writing again on the back burner. What do you know? I passed that entrance exam first try. I even passed a licensure exam first try, too. I was working on my RN when it hit me —this was not what I had set out to do.
Back to the keyboard, pens, pencils and paper I went. Oh, but now I had conviction that I knew for sure what I was doing. Everything was lining up like stars in the night sky to say, “Yes, this is my calling. THIS is what I must do.”
But did it last? Well, no. The first conversation face to face I had the opportunity to tell one of my spouse’s colleagues—” I am a writer and working on a story to publish the end of this year ,” I caved. Those words about “keeping me busy” were uttered. Worse yet, I ignored my inner voice and stuffed it with bacon wrapped scallops to shut it up. Two days, two whole days later and I realize that every action from that moment forward was a knee jerk reaction to my own moment of denial. I self destructed. I had a meltdown in confidence.
I am taking a step back and reminding myself what my priorities are. Writing is my first priority outside of eating, sleeping, the hubs, and family. Specifically, I need to finish writing Sinister. The days are flying by and that story needs to be finished.
Some of my characters are paper dolls. There is a thinness to them, they lack depth. To create layers that make up depth, I have been considering some details of who these people are. What makes them tick? Why would someone act this or that way? Imagining character backstories; doing more thinking or maybe it is procrastinating rather than writing.
Most of it won’t make the story itself. Inventing character motivation helps me imagine the story as a movie playing in my mind. Then when I write, especially dialogue, it is from a point of sharing that imagined movie to you.
That is how I work. That is how the best stories with the most positive response have, over been created. Writing, working this way, takes time, takes focus. It isn’t something that is tangible in the moment.
I haven’t in the past realized just how much work it took to complete a story until the end. At the end I gather all the files. Save them to a disk, and print them all off. Then I can see what it took, all the rewrites, edits, rough drafts to finish the story.
A few people have seen the accumulated piles of writing, and illustrations for the children books. Their comments made me aware that all those pieces of paper, even the handwritten drafts, are symbols of time and effort.
My recent rash action reminded me that I am not free to give away time and effort. I made a choice to be a writer. I made a commitment to write. I have and continue to study the art of storytelling, to include classes and workshops. One that looming on the horizon to begin later this month will challenge me beyond my skills. That frightens and excites me to stretch my writing skills into the unfamiliar.
I wasn’t thinking when I spoke about keeping myself busy. I wasn’t thinking about how much time and effort I have already committed to what I love doing, nor how much more I need to commit in the future if I am going to be the writer I want to be.
That was a tough wake up call. I take a lot of things in life seriously, too seriously. My work choice should be one of them.