I opened up my file to write today — it’s a Monday morning, the start of a new week, time to get professional again — and I didn’t even read a sentence before I was clicking on my internet browser icon to escape. Win for me, I suppose, in that I forced myself to come straight to a blog and start to write something as opposed to drifting off into news or social media or silly little quizzes, but it’s still not a good sign.
I’ve been thinking lately, but not writing. I want to give myself lots of excuses — it’s the holidays, my schedule is disrupted, I’m over-tired and in need of sleep, etc. — but none of them are very good excuses. The harsh judge in the back of my head rolls her eyes at all of them and reminds me that when I was writing Eureka fanfiction, nothing could keep me away. I stole moments late at night, after R was already asleep, and plotted constantly. Walking the dog was an exercise in dreaming out my next words. I love that part of writing and I’m just not in that sort of space right now. But I know from past experience that the only way to get back into that space is to actually do the writing. The longer I can force myself to sit with the blank page, to hammer out word by painful word like individual nails in scratchy roofing shingles, the better the chance that someday I’ll sit up and discover I have a roof over my head. Funny how literal that metaphor is, especially when what I was thinking of was not the concrete realities, but the abstract joy of writing. Is worry about the metaphorical roof-over-my-head getting in my way? Maybe.
But not entirely. In a way, that worry might be good for me. I’m at a place where it feels as if it would be easy to walk away, to decide that as a business, writing is still more work than it’s worth, and as a hobby, it stopped being fun when I started worrying about paying bills. I’ve read several blog posts recently about the death of the indie author. (Not a literal metaphor this time.) A couple were from authors, acknowledging that they hadn’t found the success they wanted. Mark Coker from Smashwords wrote about how the business has gotten tougher and he’s hearing authors talking about quitting. And Kristine Rusch wrote a lengthy summary calling 2014 “The Year of the Quitter.” In it, she talks about people losing the joy and trying to reclaim it by leaving the business.
Here’s the thing, though: in all my years of working, I’ve never had a job that provided me with joy on a regular basis. Never. Occasional moments of fun, sure. The satisfaction of working hard, completing projects, knowing I had done well, absolutely. Loads of those. Pleasant interactions with smart people, a sociable-ish life, yep, had that. But joy? Who expects joy from a job? And yet we do the work anyway.
Being able to find joy in writing is the bonus part of the job, not the nitty-gritty of it. The nitty-gritty is the nails. And it’s time for me to hammer some nails.
Endings and beginnings — it’s the beginning of the week and the ending of the year. I’m not going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. But I am going to hammer one nail at a time, one word at a time, one page, and I am going to persist. 2014 may be the year of the quitter but it’s not the year that I’m going to quit.