Saturday, December 26, 2020

"I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy having written."

"I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy having written." This sentiment has been attributed, in various forms, to many different writers. 

I don't totally agree. I remember some truly pleasurable moments writing. When a scene comes together, when dialogue develops deeper than you expected, when a solicitous phrase pops up; a character who comes alive, a plot twist you know improves the story by factors, a groove where you write a ton of words in what seems moments but turns out to have been hours.

But...when all is said and done, it is a great deal of work. consumes your time and space and emotions and thoughts. It requires discipline and dedication to finish. You're never completely satisfied, the story never is as good as you imagined it, you find fault with everything.

Then you get reviews, fair, unfair, positive, negative, worse of all, blah. You realize sales have nothing to do with the actual book, that promotion is probably the most important element. But I'd been on a long creative streak.

After being dormant for 25 years--except for a whole bunch of unfinished stories--I found a manager who I could leave in charge of the store and I went off to write. 

Recently, I thanked Sabrina, telling her: "I know I more or less disappeared for a few years."

Looking back, it seems a little like a fever dream. A creative writing fever dream. All consuming. I neglected everything else. I would forget meals, my real life was a bit of a fog.

Up until the day I started writing, I'd been consumed by the store. I'd been doing some walking, a fair amount of gardening.

I let the store go--or rather, let Sabrina take charge. My garden went to seed and never recovered. I kept walking, but now it was a tool of my writing--most of my attention was inside my own brain even as I was in the great outdoors. I'm sure most of my conversations with Linda were about writing. My blog went from talking about Bend and business, to writing, writing, writing. 

I kept writing, wondering when it was going to end. I knew I couldn't keep it up forever, and yet year after year I produced the words. I don't know if I got better, but it did become easier. But I also began to lose some of the passion I started with. Little by little.

And then I had my little heart attack, and that seemed to put an end to the fever dream. It was seven years of writing, with more than 25 novels worth of stories, some not so great, but others better than I had expected of myself. But I'd gotten to the point where I could write, but didn't need to write.

"Take a step back," I told myself. And so I did. 

Inevitably, I got involved with the store again, mostly working on establishing new books while letting Sabrina continue to handle everything else. 

I found myself at loose ends. I stopped walking. I read more and perused the internet more. I wrote a couple of short stories--that was new and fun. I finished up a couple of books.

But I haven't wanted to dive into a full novel because I know how much it requires of me. I know that to do a really good job, to get better, I'd have to work even harder and dedicate myself even more.

I'm not sure what is going to happen from here. But I will say this: "I enjoy having written."

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