Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Writing is stupid.

The writing tear I was on is starting to slow down. I figure I still have about six chapters to write, and I'm beginning to realize that I'll need to do a bunch of revisions. But it is also a real book, about 40,000 words, with an estimate of it ending up around 50,000.

Two things about writing a novel.

1.) It is a terribly inefficient process.

2.) It is very isolating and distracting.

As a small business owner, I'm accustomed to dealing with problems and projects, getting them done as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Writing? I figure when I'm totally into a story, I spend at least 3 or 4 times (10 times?) the amount of time "thinking" about the writing as I do actually writing. But it's a completely necessary step in the process. The creativity doesn't happen without that subconscious mulling over of the story and characters.

It's like being on call. I can't seem to do anything else; maybe nap, maybe walk around, maybe even play a game of solitaire. But not much else. I am tied to an invisible creative tether that doesn't allow me to accomplish anything. I haven't read a book in over a month, most of the T.V. shows are being dvr'd or saved up for one night of the week.

Yes, a book is being written, but I can't help but feel like I'm wasting huge swaths of time.

Meanwhile, everything else in my life sort of recedes. Necessary bill paying, or ordering, or anything else that requires any concentration. I hardly leave the house. Even the house sort of recedes from me, as I'm locked up in my head. I'll look up, and hour has gone by and I've been in some weird zone.

And for what?

I mean really! Writing is such a strange thing. Thinking you can write is either delusional or egotistical or -- most often -- both.

And the long odds of it ever getting published? Or of being noticed if it is published?

Why do people even start off?

I can understand why I tried this when I was my mid-twenties. I didn't KNOW any better. Ignorance was bliss. But I have to tell you, I kind of shiver about how I quit my job and wrote my book. There are so many ways that could have gone wrong!

I also understand why I quit writing when I got married and a family and a new business. I simply couldn't have done writing at the same time. I was lucky, I think. Being a writer is lonely and isolating -- and I have enough problems with those two tendencies. Thing is, I was both distracted from my real life and distracted from my fictional life.

Ultimately, it feels incredibly self-indulgent and self-absorbed. I'm concentrating on a "Fictional World" for god's sake! Days, weeks, and months -- I'm lost to the normal world. Thank goodness I have an understanding wife who is also a writer.

I used to wonder if I could write without expectation of being published. If I could write just for myself.

That was sort of missing the point. Sure, I can do that. But can I afford to take so much time on such an inefficient and isolating activity? Because, it turns out, after dabbling in writing for the last few years again, that the only way I can really write is to be a complete monomaniacal, obsessive/compulsive.

As it happens, these days, I can do it. But I don't know if I can keep doing it.


H. Bruce Miller said...

I hear your inner Calvinist talking again, telling you you're "wasting time" on a "fantasy" that you "won't get anything (i.e., money) out of."

Tell your stupid damn inner Calvinist to STFU already. You're getting creative satisfaction out of this. You might not be enriching your bank account, but you're enriching your mind and soul. Where is it written that every waking moment of your life must be devoted to some "productive" activity (i.e., one that makes money)?

Anonymous said...

I second that. Hear, hear!

Your inner Calvinist is the Censor or Resistance or whatever you want to call it. Delusional, egotistical... sinful...

Yes, tell that dour old bastard to STFU already.


Andy Z said...

Saw this and thought of you.