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.


  1. Hmm. I feel pretty much all the things you are talking about, or at least some of them :)

    I've seen an uptick over at wordpress lately. I'm getting many more "favorites" on things I write and even some new commenters. I've started writing over there again.

    My frustration with novels is I just haven't figured out my system to plotting. I'm pretty good at short fiction. But I have not figured out how to write an outline with my seat of my pants style. Or maybe that is just an excuse. It's frustrating. I know I can write but just can't do it.

  2. I have a wordpress site, but I haven't done anything with it yet, as I can't even keep up with this one, and I'm not sure why to switch or have two. Blogger does seem to be getting a little dated.

    I think both novels and short stories have their issues, and one isn't just a longer version of the other. I'm not sure why we get this idea that novels are so much better - like a step up if you're a writer. I know writers who make a living at it and never write novels. If you love the short story, there's nothing wrong with loving that. :)

  3. YES to (almost) all of this. Somewhere in the last few years, my life has changed, and I don't like it. There is something disquieting about everything...and I can't figure out why. I sometimes think it's because of FB and Twitter, this "instant" world where 140 characters is our sole form of communication. And while I love Twitter, I long for the days when I didn't have it OR FB. I felt more connected with my writing and other writers through blogging. I just tweeted today that I miss the days when blogging was THE thing to do.

    I really would like to rediscover that quiet place I had for myself. It's gone. Part of it could be the immense changes in my health in the past five years: rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, hysterectomy and then two years later, surgical menopause; constant headaches, etc. It has taken a toll on me and I can no longer find that quiet place.

    And it has all affected my writing. I still want to write novels, but I'm finding that my resistance to writing longer pieces is growing stronger. So I'm not quite sure what to do.

    Anyway. Here's hoping both of us can figure out a new game plan that works for us. :)

  4. Go for it, Heidi! You can always post them online. I just did that with a MG story. It was fun to write and I hope people will enjoy the free read.

    So sorry to hear about your health. Have you tried a TENS unit for your arthritis or headaches? It really helps with mine.

    Be well.