So, I started to write a mopey post about not writing the way I want to be writing. It wasn’t going to just be a pity party post. It was going to lead into a meditation about the ways in which not writing is part of a process, the process of becoming a different sort of writer.
I’m going to skip the sad, self-flagellating, melodramatic part.
Yeah, it’s true I’ve been struggling with writing lately, with creating a rhythm for myself, in part because I think too much about what other people say about writing or expect of my writing personally or what people at the same stage in their career as mine are accomplishing. I’m also fabulous at undermining myself by staring at job listings and worrying about whether I should go back to normal life like a reasonable adult. It’s silly. I’m working on stopping. Like all bad habits, they’re not the easiest to quit, but I can do it.
None of that matters so much, though, because I asked myself a really frank question last week: Is there a version of the future in which you can imagine yourself voluntarily not writing? I.e., could you give it up and be happy?
I can’t say what degree of success I expect for myself as a writer, but that strikes me as a pretty fucking stupid thing to spend a lot of time thinking about, the way it’s equally fucking stupid to compare my progress to anyone else’s or worry about whether other people will think I’m wasting what? my time, my talents by choosing to write scary stories or stories with robot cats or stories about witches.
I do all of those things, but again. I can and will get better.
The thing is, yes, writing has been a struggle the last few years, but I’ve come to think it was a struggle for a good reason. Because I’ve been doing something in that time: I’ve been becoming a different person.
Now sure, there are always constants about people, like the fact that I can’t imagine a happy version of myself who doesn’t write goofy stories about zombies, but we do change and we should change. Not changing…means life is having no effect on us.
I’ve been engaging with the world hard in my own way, particularly in the last eighteen months or so and that has an effect on a person. And if it has an effect on a person, you can be damn sure it’ll have an effect on any writer worth her salt. Or printer ink. Whatever.
So will some part of me wish I was a “get up at six o’clock every day and write with my mug of tea while I listen to the birdsong under the eaves” sort of writer? That I’d have dozens of stories and queries to send out every month? That I’d figured my shit out by now and would have a book hitting the shelves before I hit thirty? Fuck yes. Of course. Who wouldn’t want that?
But there’s also a part of me that’s excited for what’s next. Who’s ready to embrace the next iteration of what it means for me to write and what matters to me as a writer. Who can and will engage with this process and whatever it means for what I write and when I write and how much.
I still have goals, don’t get me wrong. But I’m also learning that every day I have to find my way back to the page. And the path feels a little obscured now, I’ll admit. But I know it’s there and I will whack the shit of some weeds with a machete until I find it.