My last story was finished on October 1, 2019. It’s called Brother Marvel’s Old Time Revival.
And, until today, when I sat down at this cold keyboard, I haven’t written anything since.
It’s not because I don’t have ideas. I have a whiteboard looming over me with a list of projects. Looking up at it, I can hear it whispering, “For chrissakes, just write one sentence, a paragraph, anything! Get those wheels rolling!”
Here’s the rub: There is a part of me that desperately wants to stop. To never write another word, sink into mediocrity and just stay still.
Perhaps it is because I am too content.
I have a job that pays my bills with a very small spillover that allows me to buy books and pay for my Pilates addiction. Thank the Muses I don’t have to live on my royalty checks. The last I received from Kindle wouldn’t pay me a cup of coffee.
I made the rounds at a few book fairs this year and was grateful to make my table money back. However, if you really wanted to be anal about it, if you consider the overhead involved in putting on those shows, I am drowning in the red.
At this moment, my writing career is a classic case of diminished returns.
If there is no monetary incentives, why keep at it? Or, considering the lack of writing I’ve done lately, why do I even worry about jumping back on that horse?
Why am I even wasting my time bitching about it?
Because in the end, it doesn’t matter how much money you made or how many times you were published. In the end, IT DOES NOT MATTER.
What does matter is answering this question truthfully:
ARE YOU HAVING FUN?
If you answered, no then STOP. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just STOP, get off the horse, dust yourself off and find something else.
Now I don’t have some rose colored perception about the writing life. I don’t expect it to be a mile a minute, raucous adventure zone cavalcade of fun fun times. It’s hard. Soul sucking, frustrating and depressingly hard work with sometimes little to no rewards (see the royalty statement paragraph above). Your work will more than likely never be read, be forgotten or, God forbid, your work will stay unfinished and molder in gut like a tumor.
So, if you’re not having fun. If even on your best days when the story is flowing like lava from your fingertips and the Word Genie is throwing a rave inside your head and you aren’t having fun, then stop.
Stop and find something else. Because, dammit, there’s no reason to clamp your knees around this bucking horse if you can do anything else.
And that’s it, isn’t it? Can you do anything else?
If I were to quit right now, go to school, and become something professional, profitable and respectable, the entire time I would be thinking “How could I turn this into a story?”
It’s how my brain works. I think in metaphor. I search for stories. I look for connections in unlikely things. I think sideways. Like Janus, I see both sides of the door.
I guess, maybe, I’m a little nuts. Perhaps, too organized a thinker to be diagnosed as schizophrenic but, in a way, I think all creatives are a little cuckoo for coco puffs.
Maybe that’s why I’ll keep on writing.
Not for money. Not for some kind of fickle fame. I’ll do it because it’s what I am, what I do and how I keep sane.
So, with that in mind, let me give my apologies. In a few years when my corpse is laid out on the cooling board in the morgue, I apologize to the poor soul who somehow ends up with my boxes of unfinished manuscripts, unpublished dreams, indecipherable journals and files named ‘future story fodder’.
I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. It’s just how I was made.
But, until that, hopefully, far away day, you’ll need to excuse me. I’ve got some new stories to tell.