Maybe subscribing to the New York Times wasn't such a good idea.
Up to now, I've ignored other books, other writers. Just done my thing. I haven't read any writerly self-help books or paid much attention to what professionals might think.
I just kind of cloistered myself in my own fictional worlds.
So now I'm getting these other writers in my face, unavoidable if I want to read a newspaper from a New York full of creative types. It's enough to make me insecure about my abilities and talents. I tell myself it doesn't matter--just like I tell myself it doesn't matter how many books I sell, or how many good reviews I get, or whether I'm published in the mainstream and carried in the bookstores.
It doesn't matter--but of course it does.
It doesn't matter. I'm just going to keep doing my own thing. Just try to be steady. I write every day, even when I don't want to. I appear to have a strong willpower when it comes to writing. I force myself on my four mile walk on days I don't want to, I force myself to sit down and write at least 1000 words, and little by little, the book gets written.
I'd love to wait around for the wellspring to overspill, to feel inspiration come upon me, to do nothing that isn't purely creative utopia.
But if I did that, I'd produce about three partial stories a year, just like I did for 25 years. Snippets of 10 or 25 or 50 pages at a time, promising starts that go nowhere.
Thing is, once I start writing, the creativity happens anyway--through doing.
The water from the wellspring is the same water, whether it's overfill, or lapping at the edges and can be drunk from a cup, of whether I have to lower a bucket and pull it up.
I don't really have that many illusions about my talent--I think my estimation has been pretty much borne out by events. I thought there were certain potentials, and those potentials seem to be happening.
Slowly, oh so slowly.
Too bad I couldn't have seen this 25 years ago, but back then I was on a different trajectory. Mostly because I had horrible habits and debilitating doubts. I needed to make a living, and the bookstore was so damn interesting, and Linda and the boys were so important, that I didn't really ever regret it.
I made the right choice.
In fact, I can be a full-time writer now without any pressure because I've already had a career. I have the same creative energy I had when I was 28, but without the time and money constraints.
My habits, my process, are so much better and getting refined all the time.
My attitude is almost the opposite from when I quit--instead of questioning the viability of every idea, my approach is the write anything that comes to me, to never say no, the try to fit it ALL IN.
I've already seen more progress than I expected. My original goal was to finish just one more book, and then to see if I couldn't get it published. I mostly expected to self-publish (though I admit I thought that would have more significant results).
So all the activity that's happened has been somewhat unexpected.
I think that I could get a regular gig going in the mainstream (my own estimation) but it would probably take another 5 years of trying. That would be interesting, but I'm more and more inclined to wonder if that is really what I want to do.
The thing I learned in my business is to do my own thing, as much as possible. To not bend to desires for money or notoriety. To do the modest, satisfying thing.
I probably should apply that to my writing.