Saturday, March 31, 2007

Letting the Hair Down Day

It's Saturday at PASIC conference, which means jeans and hair down day--no editors here, no agents, no need to look professional (not that I ever do much anymore anyway). Today is writers talking writing and business--meaning war stories day. Everyone swaps books, too, as well as what's up, what's down. And I wonder.

Are we ever where we want to be? It is always about looking ahead? There's been talk of goals and dreams, and knowing the difference. And I wonder.

The dream used to be to get published. That was the goal, too. To just finish the book. Then the next book. Then a book that would sell (there are seven under the bed that are not getting out anytime soon). Then it was the book sold, so it was promote the book--signings, bookmarks, ads. Do that whole thing. And the next book done and the next contract, and the next, and trying the whole build a career thing. And I wonder.

Is there such a thing as too many goals? So many you can't see that dream anymore--or it's become a waking nightmare. Or maybe you've got the wrong goals--goals that are doing more harm than good in getting them done? Or you've got goals and you're meeting them, and it's all good. But there's still so much focus on tomorrow that today gets neglected. And I wonder.

Is this perhaps the real blessing of between contracts. A time to skip past dealing with the day-to-day of deadlines? A time to think and breathe and remember doing something you love so much you'd do it even if no one ever paid you a dime? I love to let a book sit a spell. It gives perspective. It's not a bad thing to let a career sit a bit. Get perspective. Gives time to wonder again.

And I'm ready--lord, am I read--to get back to the writing. Thank god that after all the talking and the sessions and the gossip and the market trends, the written word is there. Because these days, for me, it's back to just that one goal. Finish the book, make it good, tell this story, get it written. That's the place to not wonder so much--it's more about the doing than the thinking. I like that place.

And, I begin to think, as writers, maybe we all think too much; try to plot a life the way we do a book. When, in truth, sometimes we really just have to live.


Nancy Morse said...

I guess it all depends on how you want to live your life, as a writer and as a person. If you define yourself by the books you write, (I write, therefore I am), then no matter how many books you write/publish/sell, it will never be enough. You'll always be striving to write/publish/sell the next one. And there's nothing wrong with that. There are a lot of ambitious people out there who got where they are by working hard for the recognition and the well-earned money. On the other hand, there are those who feel that writing is just a part of who they are and don't feel the pressure to constantly produce. There's nothing wrong with that either. But if you're going to obsess over not producing enough just because everyone around you is, then you're setting yourself up for unnecessary stress. My personal attitude is, I'll write when I want to write, not because everyone else is doing it. And if I go for periods of time without selling a book, it's because that's what works for my life. There's no right or wrong way. It's what you want for yourself and how you define yourself. I'm a writer. I've always been a writer. But it doesn't make me any less of a writer if I'm not selling books.

Anonymous said...

Writing for publication will always be a roller coaster ride, but the trick to enjoying the ride, rather than simply hanging on with a white-knuckled grip, is to have fun with the writing itself.

A lot of us started writing as a way to bring our day dreams to life, and those day dreams were a fun escape, a place in our minds to go while we were dealing with the stress of our real life. But then our day dreams became our real life, so all of the sudden -- ach! -- there's no place to escape. Or at least it can seem that way.

I'm learning to take care of the business side of writing as a business, but protect the fun of escaping into my "day dreams" when I write. I'd lost that for a while, so it's great to have it back.

Julie Ortolon -- who is just learning how to do this blogger thing