Yes, it’s one of those days.
My kids are sick and deadlines are looming, but I know that the thing that has pitched me into writing darkness is this: I posted the first few chapters on Wattpad as an experiments and got no more than 7 reads and 1 comment (admittedly, in 3 days). Which in turn made me realize how hard it is to get traction.
It also makes me wonder whether I have the gumption to keep trying.
But then, the moment I just started thinking about the actual novel and finishing, the sheer calming effect of my practice suddenly kicked in. The horrible cycle of addictively checking my Wattpad stats (hell, the thing doesn’t even earn you money!) and coming up empty handed stopped or at least quieted down.
It’s discomforting to think writing fiction may never earn me money. But maybe, at the end of the day, it’s just my practice. My Zen thing. The way a bird sings, so I should write: freely. Generously. For the love of the schtick.
Some people fantasize about sex. Some people fantasize about being thin, or winning the lottery, or having a great kitchen. For years, my fallback fantasy is that of being a writer – or more precisely, since I am a copywriter and communications consultant by trade, to make a gazillion bucks by writing fiction, quitting my day job, and living in luxury.
Time has fortuitously tempered by expectations, and I’ve adjusted my ambitious from living in luxury to a comfortable living (and even that can be a stretch, I know). I realize that a combination of hard work, zeitgeist, good luck and perseverance is necessary especially if one wants to try the self publishing route – it seems that the most successful authors are virtual machines of productivity.
Hard work doesn’t daunt me; I worked a full time job while nursing and taking care of my daughter, typing at all hours with my baby on the boob to make income. But as I come closer to finishing my first decent novel, I suddenly realized: wow, this has been a marathon. Would I be able to do this – and enjoy this – every day?
In place of the familiar fantasy of freedom and financial comfort, I suddenly think of writing under pressure (something I’m familiar with), but upped: instead of a company profile or annual report, which needs to be incisive and clear but not necessarily creatively inspiring, I imagine trying to pin down that elusive muse under stress and fear that I won’t make enough money to eat and/or that my self pubbed writing career will shortly implode. Ugh. In a moment the golden vision turned to dross.
A quick skim of other writer sites turned up the same issue right up. One woman said that after 10 years of abusing her muse it left and she burned out. I like to eat; I like not to live in fear. Maybe I need to readjust my fantasy and make it more specific.
How’s this for a new vision? A four hour work day concentrating on my fiction with some time for marketing and promotion, with good stable income and the rest of my day to take care of m kids and handle craftsy projects to refresh my muse and spirit.
How about you, any experiences of burnout?
I’m not one to advocate actually ditching your day job until you’re getting substantial cash from your writing / trust fund / significant other etc, but I can’t say I don’t fantasize about it. There are days when the desire to write overwhelms me and it’s all I can do to stay on the straight and narrow…on good days. On bad days, I just fall into temptation and write away whenever I can.
Anyhow, the balance of one’s day job and creative passion has always been a sore spot for me. WIth that in mind, as a former cubical slave, I found the following of particular interest: a man who ditched his respectable job (and ok, had a breakdown into the bargain) for his passion of classical music. And – better yet – he succeeded!
Bit of an oddball, but inspiring for all that. Plus, how can you not love the titles of this albums: “Bullets and Lullabies”, “Razor Blades, Little Pills and Big Pianos”. Carry on.