I miss when I was just someone who liked to read books. I miss spending a whole weekend curled up on a couch reading a series of books I’d found at the library. Like The Belgariad by David Eddings.
I miss those days. When my biggest concern was how long it was going to be before my mother yelled at me for spending all my time with my nose buried in a book.
Because now, as a writer of speculative fiction (gotta use the “right” term there), a lot of the shit I read just annoys and saddens me.
I’ve pulled back the proverbial curtain and seen what’s behind the scenes. No longer can I just sink myself into a wonderful book. Now I have to think about how that particular author said women should emulate Barbie and how that one hates homosexuals and how that one would like someone to explain to him what’s so wrong with walking up to random women you don’t know, introducing yourself, and asking if they’d like to fuck you. (And what the appropriate approach would be nowadays if that’s no longer acceptable…)
And, even though I’m still trying to figure out how to write a story that other people will enjoy, I have to also think about how much flak I’m going to get if I don’t write stuff that’s diverse enough or inclusive enough. Because, you know, maybe that makes me part of the problem if I don’t.
I miss the old days. No longer can I hide out in my little corner of the world enjoying books for their own sake.
I know that it takes some pretty unique or twisted individuals to write some of the stuff I like to read. But, man, is it exhausting to know this stuff about people.
What happened to the days when you saved all your worst thoughts for family and close friends? (Not that that made it ok, and, trust me, not that it made it fun to visit my relatives in small-town Texas, but at least I didn’t have to see people I hardly knew and know that kind of thing about them.)
Probably my fault for spending too much time on the interwebs and not enough time writing that next story. But it seems to me that I’m early enough in my writing career that I can choose different directions to take. And maybe speculative fiction isn’t that path.
Or maybe traditional publishing isn’t. (If I self-pub and do everything from home, maybe I’ll never have to spend a moment in a room with some of the asshats I’ve seen commenting recently…)
I think in the struggle to find publication, we often overlook some of the other struggles that come with the writing life. And maybe, at the end of the day, it’s those struggles that are going to be the hardest to navigate.
Is that person a mentor or exploiting me? Is that agent furthering my career or their own interests? Is that publisher giving me greater exposure or using me up and spitting me out? Is it worth a thousand more copies sold to be polite to that person who I know has said this, that, or the other thing? Is this a learning opportunity or have I unwittingly aligned myself with a camp I don’t want to be part of?
All careers are full of landmines. And I’ve certainly set a few off in my day. I just somehow had this naive belief that writing would be different because it’s such a solitary activity. Haha. WRONG.