Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New Game Plan

We are in the throws of winter here in Virginia, and despite all the predictions for a warmer-than-usual and snowier-than-usual January, it has been brutally, arctic-ly cold, and not at all snowy. It's not at all what I expected, and I find myself wistfully thinking of green trees and warm sun, even while knowing when Spring comes, I'll be longing for snow.

The fact is, even when you know a season is coming, it isn't always the way you envisioned. It's true for meteorology, and it's true for life.

About nine years ago I began writing again. I didn't know what was going to come of it --quite possibly nothing--but I envisioned a future here. At the time, that future looked like novels and agents and a big publishing house. At least, that's what I wanted it to look like.

Everything was different then. Blogging was big, especially among aspiring writers who found it a community to connect with each other, to dream with each other, to gain knowledge from each other. Agents were gods. There were no ebooks, no ereaders, no way to publish your own book for less than an arm and leg and your firstborn. There was little pride in self-publishing.

My kids were young, and of the age where I had them all gathered in at night, eating dinner together, stories before bedtime, lights out before nine.

I somehow thought that season of my life would be longer. All of it: the writing, the blogging, the community, the dream, the dinners, the quiet nights. Maybe until the kids even left for college.

I went back to school, thinking it was more like a vacation to the bahamas during a snow storm --something lovely and different, but not something that would change the season itself.

But somehow it did. Or the season around me changed while I was away.

The kids grew, and life is immeasurably more hectic. I have a job that requires hours out of my day that used to be hoarded for writing. Blogging seems to be flailing among writers who have little time now for community that moves at the pace of paragraphs.  I have a novel that is twisting me in knots, and unable to let me go. I rarely come here, but I long for it.

Life is just...different. Not better or worse, but different. And I'm trying to figure out how to fit my dreams into it, how to file the edges of the dream into something that fits where I am in this season.

Nine years ago, novels were the only form of writing on my radar. When I went to Pacific and met all these wonderful people churning out short stories, I admired them, and said I would never do that. It just didn't at all appeal to me. Then I worked with Pete. And all that changed.

The fact is, I'm not sure novels are a thing of possibility for me anymore. Right now, anyway. I love them, but they are exhausting and time-intensive. My life has demanded a shorter view finder these days, and the shiny new ideas that are coming at me are short story ideas. They are smaller gems that offer a greater ability to flit about, try new things, be in different worlds and times and inside different souls. Something that feels incredibly freeing after being locked for so long in the main character of my current novel.

Even more freeing, the release of the pressure to find an agent. Release from the pressure of finding a publisher. Release from the idea that to be successful as a writer, I have to hard sell myself and market my writing.

Short stories... I don't know. Maybe I'll send them out, if they are any good. Maybe not. Maybe I'll just keep writing, tucking them away until a new season where publishing becomes more important.

I never wanted fame. I only want to write. So... why not? Why not just write? And then... see where that takes me later, when I have time to find out.