The Writing Thing

I’ve been writing fiction for well over twenty years now, but I still haven’t quite figured out what kind of role I want it playing in my life.

When I was younger and hungrier, I was pretty prolific, and on some level the mere production of material was enough to make me happy. But somewhere in there, I started developing other expectations for my writing: that it should turn the science fiction field on its ear (it didn’t), that it should always sell (it doesn’t), that it should bring me acclaim (it hasn’t). I set the bar at perfect, missed, and got frustrated.

So, I tried Not Writing for a while, to see if that would make me happier than falling short of my goals. But Not Writing is worse. After years of building my life around writing, it felt like a big gaping hole.

Clearly I need writing to still be a part of my life, but to what degree? I’m still trying to figure it out, but lately it hasn’t been irritating me as much, so I might be getting somewhere.

My latest project is a near-future espionage novel, which I started during NaNoWriMo, then set aside when I ran out of steam, and have been tinkering with on and off ever since. Whenever I look at the project, I like it but I don’t feel compelled to work on it, and I don’t feel guilty when I’m not. I have every intention of finishing it, but no timeline, and every hope it will sell, but no expectation that it will.

So far, this is feeling like a pretty sane approach to writing for me. And yesterday at Lulu’s it yielded just over 1,100 words on Chapter Six, and better, it didn’t feel like a chore. After all, this is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?

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