Chasing Inspiration

Friday, March 09, 2012

To Have Joy or to Write, That is the Question

I think someone up there is trying to tell me something.

Everywhere I have turned in the last few weeks, the same message has been occurring. It's about passion. It's about joy. And it's starting to impact my writing.

I've been challenged to let go of writing for the sake of publication. To let go of the drive to have my words in the hands of the masses. To stop focusing on pleasing the reader and to write to please myself. To find joy in writing again by writing only for me. Writing because without spending time writing, I am lost.

With my current work in progress, I have been trying hard to apply all the lessons I have learned on craft and to change how I write so I can write a story that is marketable. Many of the people I look up to as successful authors talk about writing to the market, writing to an audience and how that works for them. And it obviously works for them, so I decided to see if it could work for me. My end goal is to be published. Why not test out the process of those who are successful at what they do?

Sounds good on paper, but in reality it's caused me no end of self doubt and brain freeze. Am I doing things right? Will my concept even appeal to anyone? Who the hell do I think I am that I could ever be published? Why is this so hard?

I keep hearing that writing is hard. I won't lie, the initial draft for me is easy. The story just comes. It's not completely fleshed out. It has no end of flaws. But actually getting words on the page is easy. Revisions are hard. Revisions are hell. I'm learning to do some things differently so I can embrace the process of reshaping my story into something more cohesive and polished. But it is hell.

Recently, the entire process of getting words on the page has been hellish. After getting hit over the head with some blog posts and writerly advice from writers I had never even heard of before this week, I know why. I stopped writing for the sake of writing. I stopped writing for the joy of seeing words form sentences, sentences forming paragraphs, paragraphs forming scenes and scenes forming stories.

I stopped finding joy in creating.

There, I said it. It has shamed me for a long time that I didn't have the rush, the joy of writing anymore. It's chased me for years. I stopped writing for a while because of it. I started writing for fun instead of profit for a while and thought I was on the road to recovery.

That ended the minute I started trying to write something that is publishable. My joy fizzled out until I became a dry husk and the words no longer flowed freely. I had to fight for every last one of them.

You know what? I'm done. I'm writing for me again. I still want to publish, but I'm going to go about it differently. I'm going back to the beginning and doing two things. I'm going to take my current wip and keep everything that sings to me and scrap the rest. Then I'm going to start writing again, just to let the words flow and to make my heart burst with joy. I'm not going to put the pressure on this story to be THE story. I'm just going to let it be story. Just story.

I'm also going to focus on craft. Not publishing. Craft. There's a course I really want to take that has been recommended for years by Marjorie Liu - Clarion. It sounds amazing. While I wish I could go to Clarion this year and immerse myself into a writing community for six weeks, I can't afford the time off of life right now to do so.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself because I can't go to Clarion, I'm going to go back to a writing course I took by Holly Lisle back in 2007, or was it 2008? Anyway, I took How to Think Sideways by Holly and am a life time member of her novel writer boot camp. I have all the lessons and am going to start at the beginning. Not with my current WIP. I'm instead going to create a new story through the process. Just for fun and for knowledge.

Some day I will be a published author. For now I need to write for me or I'm going to lose writing altogether and that, I just cannot do. It would be like cutting out part of my soul, and who can live with only half a soul? Hmm, maybe there's a story idea there...

1 comment:

  1. Check out Eric Maisel's stuff, and never forget Rilke and his words to the young poet. In the end, we write for us. We write because we can't help it. We write because that's what we are...not because that's what we do...IF someone will pay you for it, then good for them. Good for you. But, finding joy, meaning, and even some sort of anchoring in the process of watching our words bring ideas to life, people to life--creating universes--and even logophilia...aaah...who can pay someone to breathe in the writer's atmosphere? Is writing hard? Yes. Not writing is harder.