Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blogging, writing, and life

"When writing a novel, that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day."

- Neil Gaimen

 

Hold your hats folks, I’m philosophical today.

Most of us have two or three main factors that we try to balance. Family, work, and school are the big ones. For us writers, there’s another obvious factor – writing. Then blogging can sneak its way on top. There are numerous additional things we juggle – weight and diet, an engagement, a second job, e-mail, sick pets, sick self.

Managing all of these can be a huge problem.

We live in a world – particularly the publishing world – where only the ruthless survive. The multitaskers, novel-a-yearists, and opportunity-grabbers are the only ones who manage to stay afloat. Look at J.A. Konrath's blog. What is his eternal message? Do everything you can, and more than you can. Take every opportunity and invent your own opportunities. Persist and never stop persisting.

The moment you get serious about writing, this burden is dumped on your shoulders. To be more and do it better. It’s a commitment and an obligation, a passion and a virus; a need, a love, a job.

Most of us start out doing this because we want it. We’ve always dreamed of being an author; we enjoy reading; we have a story that yearns for exsistence. We find time and we find a way. We make it work. Opportunities crop up. We snatch them, excited and thrilled. We learn more, write more, revise more. Our progress coalesces. Start a blog, someone says. We start a blog. You should enter this contest, someone says. We start entering contests.  The pieces come together, and we gain momentum. Our identity as a writer becomes something tangible.

It’s great and it’s wonderful, and it’s a very thrilling time. So when – and how – does it go bad? Why? Why does it have to be this way?

I guess the how is pretty obvious. There’s only so much one person can handle. You can try and try to do it all, but eventually, something is going to suffer. But when opportunities continue to arise and your life continues to grow more complex, how do you know when to put on the breaks?

I follow a blog that interviews a lot of writers. In the interviews, one question is asked over and over: How do you balance your life with your writing? And the universal reply is, they aren’t sure, or they don’t think they do.

I don’t think most of us consciously “balance” our lives. Sometimes when things get to be too much, we do sit down and try to work out a new system so that everything fits and every commitment can be met.

Which is fine – until life changes. Someone gets very sick. Taxes go up, and you need more money, so you take a second job. What you had time for before is now extraneous. It just happens; there is no tipping point.

So that leaves me with why.

Why do we let it get this far?

Why can’t we always find a way?

Why must we push ourselves so?

We know that to let go of something means to loose ground we fought so hard over. We know that letting go means expelling some of our momentum. But I think we also look at is as taking the “easy way out.” It’s cheating. We didn’t fight as hard as everyone else, and we should have. But if we stay because of guilt, isn’t that just as bad in it’s own way?

What reason is the right reason to do anything?

 

-Creative A

4 comments:

Rafael said...

I am a writer. I know that now. Everything else exists to support my writing.

Annie King said...

All I know is, now that I've taken some university level creative writing classes, I've read and studied numerous books on writing, I've begun submitting my work, and I started my "writer's blog" - when I write creatively, I write better, but I find less time to write.

I don't know where it all goes wrong, but for those of us who work and have family obligations (and that's probably most of us), it's very difficult to balance responsibilities. Also, I think, the joy of writing for ourselves may be lost a little, when we feel our task to be less nebulous, and we start writing for an audience, real or perceived.

I wrote unfiltered fiction for fifteen years with an excellent working knowledge of grammar and a raw talent for characterization. My output was large, but none of it is of a publishable quality, in terms of plot or structure. In the last few years, I've gotten positive feedback from classmates, instructors, and editors; I'm closer to meaningful publication, but my attentions are divided, and my output is minimal in comparison.

Does anyone know, what's the answer?

Sorry for the long comment, but your post "struck" a chord.

In my writing, I'm still learning and growing. I'm experimenting with form in poetry and prose. I'd like to get back to just the way I write, me, whatever comes natural. That's why we do it. To express ourselves. But somebody's got to read it, or it all disappears.

Creative A said...

Rafael, I wish I was you. Someday soon I hope to get to the point where everything supports my writing life; but I'm just not quite there yet.

-CA

Creative A said...

Annie, thank you for sharing all that. I didn't even realize it was long until you said so. Your story sounds a lot like mine...it's nice that someone can relate.

I started out writing fiction for pleasure and did so, unperturbed, for two or three years. Same as with you, none of it was of publishing quality, and that was my plan - not to push for publication until I was truly able to handle it.

When I finally believed I had publishable material, I began the whole process of networking, building a platform, honing my craft, and gaining small pub credits for when I subbed my novels...

And now suddenly there is all this commitment, where there wasn't before.

I do believe someone can get to that place of balance, where obligations are handled along with passions, but I believe it takes a lot of sacrifice in advance. The problem for me is, what do I dare sacrifice at this point?

Again, thank you for sharing.

-CA

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