What would you do if a genie told you he could wave a magic wand, (I know I’m mixing my metaphors here, but bear with me,) and you could write creatively, what ever you wanted, as your only job? You’ve passed all the rites to get you to adulthood: graduated, got two degrees, had a decade long career, got married and had a cat baby, and now, in your early 30s, you get to just write? Well, there is one catch. You must also hold down a household and take care of a grandparent. (What an absolutely beautiful catch!) Would you accept that life? Would you feel incredibly lucky?
I have and I do!
There has been an assessment of finances and needs and priorities. We have decided we can live on one income. There will be no new cars, no hairdresser appointments, probably no more shopping at Whole Foods, (that I will probably miss the most,) but we can do it. I recognize how lucky I am and promise to be grateful for what I have every day of my life. I know I have and will continue to work really hard to deserve this.
This means I can devote all of my time to being a stay at home caretaker and a stay at home writer. This means I don’t have to worry about finding a job that will accept: “I don’t really have any availability and when I am scheduled I just might have to call out at any point.” This means I don’t need to worry about making money at something, therefore stealing from my time set aside to write, and I don’t need to make money with my writing, therefore needing to aim what I write to sell. (In fact, thinking about it, that lack of pressure to succeed could be the kiss of death as well as being breathing room to be creative. Who knows, if my life doesn’t depend on it, maybe I won’t be desperate enough to succeed.)
Either way, directly after my sigh of relief, came paralyzing fear.
What if I don’t have another good idea for a novel in me? Can I write any really good short stories? Well, I don’t have any new ideas right now! I can’t ride off the coat tails of my first and only novel forever. Is that one even any good? I might not have any writing talent. No story telling talent. This just might be the most ridiculous idea.
Part of my brain is telling me that is absolutely true. Part of my brain is saying exactly what I am going to do: Keep going any way. That is what I have always done. With no faith in myself what so ever I keep on keeping on.
That is my advice to all artists: Just create the art despite it. Just keep going. It’s an honorable pursuit. Assess it and judge it all you want when it’s done. Whether it’s absolute trash or it’s platinum, turn around and start all over again on the next one.
I just can’t think about the insecurities, the slim chances at success. I am a creative writer and I will just continue to write. I will continue to love all those addictive things about it, like the ghoul in the corner, and the other beasty weasties I wrote about in last Wednesday’s post. But there are more subtle things to love about writing beyond, and maybe below, the all mighty story. But I love the little things. Like the word subtle. Like typing the word “street.” Go ahead. Try typing it. It is beyond satisfying how the s dangles but then the three fingers just rock back and forth. I used to love “was” and “saw” and I’d type them back to back over and over. But now I’ve graduated to street. And I’m fulfilled as I transcribe Babu’s journals because she writes the word all the time. She is perpetually going “down street.”
And I’ve been loving revising my novel, for the millionth time. Besides the utter delight to find that I still enjoy reading the story I wrote and revised so many times, are the sticky notes. Simple, traditional yellow ones. They are now creating a lion’s mane around my computer monitor. Or maybe they are rays of sunshine. Regardless of their cheery appearance, the true metaphor is that they are the path, the flagstone walkway I remember as a child reaching from my front door to the street. These notes are what I must do to get there. A completed novel. The more of them I write the more satisfied I feel. And eager. Very eager.
There are a few things to deal with first: the revision and submission process for novel #1. Second, continuing the blog. Then the crucible. Then. Then, can I successfully begin a new project?