Sometimes. Seriously, someTIMES. What on earth am I thinking?
I am married to a smart, fun, lovely woman; have six ridiculously sweet and good kids; need to renovate a bathroom; have a star destroyer-load of yard work that needs to get done; and have people I need to minister to regularly. I also like to read and watch stories pass across screens of all shapes and sizes. Netflix and I have a close friendship.
On that note, if I’m spending more time on Netflix than on my bed, there’s a problem.
Why do I add to my work load, stress level, and self-image worries by pursuing a writing career? Honestly, it’s totally fair to wonder what the heck is wrong with me.
Because of this question, I decided I had better spend some time making it clear in my mind, again, why I’m doing this. And by ‘this’ I mean why I’m writing novels and seeking publication.
1. Because I want to. This is important, my friends. I want to write. I want to get published. I want people to read my stuff and enjoy it, love it, become enamored with the characters, and obsess about what happens next.
I scroll through my ‘Jared Writing’ directory and see upwards of 40 story ideas. I read short stories I’ve written, browse story synopses for future projects, laugh at some of my empirically good stuff, kick myself at the idiot stuff, and feel..
Inner harmony. Purely, unadulteratedly myself. I love those moments. I live for the moments when I’m writing a scene between two people and I learn about them and myself and feel words flow from the image in my head and heart and get almost breathless with the tension and deliciousness of creation.
Good gosh, I ache for that right now.
I write because of that ache. I write because I want to CREATE.
2. I write for money. I write for profit. I want to make money off my work; this is a fact that needs stating. I want to make money off my hard writing work.
Why shouldn’t I?
I want to get off the teat of the corporate world. I want to depend on myself for my income. I want to determine my own schedule so I can take a kid out of school sometimes and go for a hike or go see a movie together.
I’d love to get filthy stinking rich from my writing.
If not that, I really want to make enough that I can move forward a little or a lot faster in our family’s financial goals, establishing accounts for my kids and teaching them about money management and giving them starts and boosts as needed. I would love to be able to take my dear wife out more so we can chat about things we both love and be alone together more often.
If not filthy rich, I’d like enough that we can foster some kids, maybe buy a ranch somewhere to give our kids and others the opportunity to work with the earth and animals and find out what’s really important to them.
I’d like to start a scholarship for former unwilling cultists, or at least for somebody who needs it– maybe writers.
3. Fame. I want notoriety. I want to EARN regard from others, I want my work to deserve praise. I want to feel like I’m accomplishing something that is making a noticeable difference in people’s lives. I want to feel like I’ve earned a place with others who have accomplished important things.
I have to fight vanity every day, but honestly, my vanity is an overcorrection of my feelings of abject unworthiness. I feel like a faker and poser in almost every situation, be it professional or social or even religious, and rarely feel like I’ve earned my place there.
The exception to this is my current corporate job. I know what I’m capable of skills and leadership-wise and I have no use for crappy management or office politics. I have no desire to be a C-level executive, but I could certainly be utilized better.
4. Frak me, this is the second hardest thing I’ve ever attempted. What’s the first hardest? (That sounds odd.. is that right? First hardest? Most hardest? Bestest cake I ever made?) I can’t tell you that right now.
But this is indescribably difficult. Making the time to write and do all the things connected to crafting a good story– amidst everything else I do– all the other directions I’m being pulled and my own desires for some relaxation and stress-relief, this is a very hard thing to do. There are days I just feel blasted, totally empty of physical, intellectual, and emotional energy– but the day’s not done and I’m still up to bat, still on the line. I push harder and at the end, writing is a task I just don’t do.
It occurs to me that this is a cop-out, that I should have a religious habit with my writing and that I would feel better about things if I stuck to that, but frak me, can’t I be imperfect for a little while and sit this one out? Just this time?
It’s also hard to write well. It’s easy to sit in a conference workshop and nod my head and say, “Yeah, I know that dialogue tags should be reduced in number and that you should use ‘said’ generally. And who uses a prologue anymore? What do you take me for?” But remembering things about showing rather than telling, keeping action moving, staying true to motivations and character goals– this ain’t easy. Doing all of this creatively and in a fresh way?
It’s also hard to see success and not be jealous while I’m effortlessly and genuinely happy for others and their accomplishments. It’s hard to see mediocre work be rewarded out of proportion because a marketing department decided to get behind it. Seriously, some TIMES.
It’s hard to not really have an ‘in’ because I’m still a newcomer and am hyper-sensitive to ‘being an imposition.’
This writing thing is tough beyond description. But when I succeed, by all that’s holy, I will have bloody well ACCOMPLISHED something. I will have beaten the weakness in me and the crap that has been thrown at me. I will have WON, achieved one of my deepest and longest-held desires.
And then I’ll do it again.
I waxed verbose, but now it’s your turn. Why do you write? Or why do you do the things that you do that are important to you? Why do you fight for your dreams? And when failure and trial slow or stop you, why do you keep going?