I haven't written a damn thing this week. I did some editing on the weekend, but nothing major. What I did do was sit down to iron out a few things on Fertile Ground. And I wrestled with the real reason I write.
Part of the impetus for the wrestling match was a rejection I received. It was a nice rejection off a partial. She even welcomed me to send her my next project because she likes my voice. But it got me thinking once again about why I'm doing this. I feel like I lost sight of the initial reason I started writing in the first place.
Five years ago - well twenty-five really - I understood that I have stories inside me I need to tell. When I first started, that was all that mattered. I had a story idea, and I needed to make it more than just a bit of whimsy at the back of my head. I needed to put it on paper, to flesh it into a whole book, to give the characters their voice and see the whole thing live outside my neurons.
Everyone told me I was nuts. The few people I shared my premise with told me it wouldn't fly. It was crazy, and improbable, and one person even went so far as to email me proof of why my premise was lame. And then I showed the first five chapters to a new person - a guy I'd just started talking to online. He didn't give a rip about the improbable premise. He just loved the writing, and told me that writing was something I needed to do with the rest of my life. (I married him four months later, btw.)
Anyway, the point... Five years ago, I didn't give two hoots in hell what anyone thought or was going to think about my writing. I knew in my heart I was a writer, and even if that brilliant guy had told me I was nuts, I would've still written. (Probably wouldn't have married a man who was that short-sighted, but Spectacle still would've been written.) I don't know when that changed, but somewhere along the way, I got too wrapped up in writing what I thought people would want to read, and lost sight of writing what I wanted to write.
I mean, if I was under contract, I could see writing what I was being paid to write, but I'm not. I should be able to write whatever I want, and *snap* for what anyone else wants. I wanted to write a novel about what happens when fear takes over a nation, and I did it. I wanted to write a book about what happens when mankind allows nature to take precedence over human life, and I did it. I wanted to write about a future where abortion is a capital crime, and I wanted to write about a future ruled by socialism. So far no one (outside my circle of betas) has wanted to read them, but I'm proud of them all.
Writing this right now, I just had an epiphany. It's hard to explain, but here goes... it's not so much that I was writing things I don't want to write because I think they're things people would buy. It's that I thought that's what I was doing. The feeling I was selling out was killing me more than the actual selling out. (If that makes any sense.)
I really did want to write a suspense that centered around a psycho trophy wife, and I really want to finish this other suspense with the serial rapist intent on populating the world with his genes. I still want to see my funny PI series get published, and even the dark mystery in the small town that I never quite finished editing.
And that's okay. It's okay to want to write whatever, and it's okay to want them to get published. It's also okay if they never do. As long as when I type THE END (something I hesitate to do until the final draft), I can be stand up and say "I wrote this" and be proud of the fact.
I may never be published. I have to learn to accept that. I have to stop chasing the dream of publication like it's the be-all and end-all of writing. I have to just write, and let everything else figure itself out later. Because if I don't, each successive book will be crappier than the last until I hate myself and my writing and everything associated with this endeavor.
Sorry. I didn't mean to turn today's post into a forever vent. Sometimes it's just cathartic to write it all out. Thanks for reading down this far and joining me in my madness.
I don't know what the future will bring. This weekend, I'll be trying to work on the edits for Nano. Next week I may be back to work on Fertile Ground, or I might shift to EQ or one of the other stories that are waiting to be written. (Including the new SF piece I dreamed up the other night - literally.) Bear with me.
And if you've ever been in the same boat, commiserate in the comments.