I sometimes have those days when I think about easy. I think about an old series I started, that rough draft of a second novel tucked away that feels like something I jettisoned that could now come in handy.
It’s comforting thinking about how — while challenging enough — the book was not hard to write. Also comforting: knowing following books in that series wouldn’t be so hard to write. Thinking about the book makes me remember old role playing game scenarios. It’s the kind of story where a character is trying to gather several pieces of something bigger than him to stop bad things from happening.
This tucked-away book has a much better chance of seeing something more happening with it than what I’m currently writing. The friends I have “in the biz” work in genre fiction (and have even offered help), and this is definitely genre fiction. But it’s not the book or series I want to write…at least not more than what the last book I finished and what I’m currently working on.
I’ve mentioned so many times, here, that I’m often more inspired by artists than writers that I feel like I don’t need to preface thoughts like this talking about how I’m inspired greatly by artists. But there it is.
This morning, I read this bit by Greg Ruth. In it, he mentions something very simple (so simple that he jokes it could be a Celine Dion lyric):
Ultimately the most important and essential guiding post for you art career is finding, nurturing, and growing your own vision.
Vision is important to me, and much of what Ruth goes on to discuss in the piece is also important to me. (Largely, that comfort is not good; that there is great benefit in pushing yourself into making things you didn’t know you could pull off…and then pushing again and again and again.)
When I think about vision, I’m back in junior high school, thinking about the books that most impressed me and how I decided I wanted to write on the level of John Cheever, John Irving, and others. (I guess if one is going to set out to do something bigger than them, they may as well think big!) In addition to books by the authors who made me think about the mechanics of writing, sStories a bit out of the norm — Watership Down and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, along with Stephen King’s “The Body” — made me realize one could write whatever they wanted and possibly even find an audience for it.
I found great comfort in that.
I’ve written enough that I see the recurring themes that interest me: quirky outcasts coming to find their way in a world in which they don’t seem to belong; compassionate people winning in the end, despite long odds; people with big dreams holding true to their vision no matter what kind of mess it makes of their lives. (And yes, I’m also quite fond of dogs with digestive issues.)
But it goes beyond just what I write — it’s also the ways to get stories out there. I’ve given away work for free, something writers are told not to do. But I give it away on my own terms, and I’m fine with that because while Greg Ruth mentions in his blog entry on Muddy Colors that comfort can be a bad distraction, I have a semblance of comfort from my day job that allows me to not care [as much] about the monetary compensation that comes from writing.
I can wait months for the rejections and occasional acceptance from literary journals, or I can write, record, and release my stories on a monthly podcast, knowing that past recorded work has been listened to by more people than if the stories had seen publication. (Shameless plug: I just loaded the most recent story to the new podcast, a story about a father who is excited to hear his son wants to sign up for football; that is, until he finds out what his son really means is soccer. (Really, it’s about even more than that — it’s about several generations of fathers and sons and their influence on one another.))
But all this is just a facet of my vision as a writer; there’s something even more important to me deep down.
My vision is to sit in whatever little room it is that I have fortune to have at my disposal and write early in the morning (or sometimes late at night) when the world is quiet and it’s just me and my thoughts. There is such a satisfaction from the act itself that as much as I’d love for this to be the way I pay the bills that it’s still its own reward, just in the creation of it all.
From the Silence, Something More
I don’t really know where I’m going with all this, other than it’s still before I need to think about logging into the day job and finishing a rewrite on a new online help system. It’s early enough in the day that my mind is not bogged down with other things. I like this state of mind. I thought about another entry I could have written this morning, but the one with no definite end felt like the one I needed to write.
Much of my writing is like that — even novels, these things that begin in an early morning haze and eventually become something more.
So much of one’s life is usually defined: we follow our schedules and do our things that we regularly do. Even writing is a scheduled thing for me.
What makes it something more than what I write at my day job is a vision all my own. I have the luxury to do whatever I want, and that is never lost on me.
For some reason this morning, that matters most in my mind right now.