By every professional standard, 2009 was a lousy writing year. I neither sold nor published any stories. I abandoned my novel in chapter thirteen and never got it going again. I only wrote two short stories, which – even though I think they’re two of my best – once again met with indifference from the major magazines. Frequently this year I found myself wondering whether the struggle to remain a miniscule fish in the already small pond of science fiction was even worth continuing.
Oddly, though, for all its low-key disappointment, I feel less than upset when reflecting back on 2009 from a writing perspective. This felt like an honest writing year, maybe my first honest one in years. For the most part I wrote when I felt like writing, and not out of any sense of obligation to simply produce in a career-minded way. This statement might read like insanity to my more professional, accomplished writing friends, or perhaps like veiled defeatism – a fair enough assumption for people who know me at all! But sitting here at year’s end, I honestly feel like I did the writing I needed to do this year.
What I need to work on is how I think about writing, and how I think about my “status” as a writer. That’s a whole different order of business.
I still have some small hope that the two stories I wrote in 2009 will be published, but even if they aren’t, I loved how writing them felt. Both of them came quickly and naturally and felt right when they were done. I’m glad to have them to look back on for last year’s efforts.
The whole blogging project felt like a rousing success. I felt like I blogged consistently and for my own satisfaction, and I enjoyed the process of it. I wrote nearly 150 posts in 2009, which I think is pretty impressive considering my introverted nature and deeply conditioned invisibility complex. And it even seems like a few people read the posts, which is great!
Even more revelatory was rediscovering music from an entirely new angle. Working on my goofy little GarageBand numbers has really given me a new perspective on creative satisfaction. I doubt I will ever make one red cent from music, but I’ve derived so much joy and satisfaction from working on those tunes — from learning the software, to resurrecting my meager keyboarding abilities, to mixing the sound levels, to adding in the samples and sound effects — that it really doesn’t matter to me whether anyone else ever listens to them.
I think I used to get that kind of unconditional fun and satisfaction out of writing, but gradually lost it when I turned science fiction into a job and started worrying so much about what people thought about what I was doing.
This isn’t to say I’m done with writing; not by a long shot. I’ve tried the “not-writing” thing, and it made me a lot more miserable than all my writing failures combined. The fact is, I love making stuff up, and I’m best off when I’m keeping that simple thought in the forefront of my mind. At the end of the day, I have ideas and stories and visions I want to realize, and I’m going to keep at it! It’s just a matter of how…and what. I have no idea what I’m going to work on next, but whatever writing goals I set for next year, they’re all going to come with the added condition that I have fun writing.
To all my writing buddies out there, here’s hoping to 2010 is a great writing year for you!
I just wanted to say that I love your joyful attitude. Happy New Year!
Thanks, Steven! I guess I’m starting to figure: if it doesn’t make me joyful, why am I doing it? 🙂