Not too long ago, I wrote about overcoming a bout of writer’s block. While I’m glad to have that hell behind me, since then it’s become apparent that I have a much bigger problem. My story isn’t working anymore. That’s a painful thing to confront, but a necessary first step toward fixing the problem. It’s time to re-evaluate what I’m doing, and start over.
To that end, I’m working on a new protagonist’s goal. When I listen to the girls, her goal comes through loud and clear, but when I put my new girl into action she goes rogue. Instead of pursing the goal I’ve set for her, she wanders aimlessly about like a child chasing butterflies. My protag is unfocused, undisciplined, and whines a lot about the barriers she faces, and the impossibility of obtaining her goal.
No, I’m not talking about a fictional heroine; I’m talking about me.
For some time now, my writing life “story” has been to get published and pursue a writing career. It’s a goal many of us have, but unless I finish my WIP (i.e. have a product to sell), the career thing is moot. Not only that, but I’ve recently realized that establishing a writing career is not for the weak-kneed or the faint-hearted. It requires grit and determination, dedication, commitment, courage, and sacrifices—lots of sacrifices. Something I didn’t fully comprehend when I was swept off my feet by the glamorous facade of “The Dream”.
Now I know better. Writing is not glamourous. Oh, it’s not without its rewards, but let’s face it—writing is a tough road to hoe. So when I saw no obvious progress toward a writing career, I did what many people do when eye-to-eye with failure. I plopped the blame at someone else’s feet. I told myself if only I had more time, I could make some headway on my WIP. If only I didn’t have to work full-time, I could really devote myself to a writing career. If only…
My self delusion went on for a while, and then Nationals brought a halt to it. While the other ladies were looking at their writing goals and strategizing on the best use of their time, I was dreaming of ditching the conference workshops to go off and have some fun. While the other ladies were thinking about their stories, brainstorming ideas over a quick lunch, I was thinking about ice cream.
No, I’m not kidding.
Needless to say, I didn’t accomplish very much at the conference. I returned home empty and guilty and disappointed in myself. I couldn’t focus on a computer screen, much less write. For a time I even considered hanging it up (writing that is). Thankfully, I had enough brain-power left to consult a wise friend for advice. He listened patiently as I whined about my life, nodding as I described how my day job was sucking the creative energy out of me, yabba, dabba, do. When I finished, he asked me what I wanted.
“To write,” said I.
He leaned in close, looked me in the eye, and said: “So, what’s stopping you? Go write. Plenty of people work full-time and still managed to get published.”
Yeah, but…well dang…that was too hard! And exhausting. And besides I couldn’t work full-time and write part-time and still do the house stuff and the family stuff, and never mind about the fun stuff. Didn’t he get that, damnity-damn it?!
Turns out he got it alright. The confusion was all mine.
We talked some more and he set me straight in more ways than one, and I realized that the only thing stopping me from pursuing a writing career, was me. I’d been so focused on the fantasy that I failed to see what a career in writing truly requires. So how could I know if my desire for it outweighed the necessary sacrifices?
So, I’m taking a few steps back and considering my options. I’m not giving up on pursing a writing career. I’m just setting it aside for further exploration. I need to give some thought to what I want and need, what I’m willing to give up to make a career of writing. That means quiet time to look at where I am and where I’d like to go. Talk to people I respect and brainstorm. Re-evaluate.
In the meantime, I’ll do the thing I love best. The thing I know I want to do.
I’ll go write. Because really, there’s nothing stopping me.
What’s stopping you from writing today?