You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of the opinion that only people who “must write” should write. I’ve never ever been someone who had strong singular passions. That’s how I ended up with three majors in college–because it all interested me. Anthropology, psychology, economics, business, Russian literature, Asian religions…And that’s just what I studied.
Hell, if I could go back I’d add religion, philosophy, and computer programming to the mix and who knows what else.
So, this post by Hayden Trenholm really resonated with me.
Read it all, but here are a few key quotes:
“Did I become a writer because I was compelled to because to do anything else would have ruined my life? Not at all. I write and edit and publish because I like doing it and because I want to do it.”
“Personally, I take almost as much pleasure from an inventive supper, a well-designed balcony garden, a good photograph, an exciting relationship or solving a policy problem in the day job as I do from a well-crafted sentence or a completed story.”
“Getting away from it all – really turning off all the ‘creative’ impulses is difficult but can often be the most creative ‘work’ you do. Clear your mind; your sub-conscious will keep working.”
His post ties into a recent blog post by DWS where he talks about the new indie mindset. About this feeling that things have to happen now, now, now. Write more, sell more, if it doesn’t happen right away, change direction, rebrand, remarket, redo.
I’ve definitely seen this attitude show up on the forums There’s a spec fic author whose first book seems to be doing very well. And yet I saw this author talking today about rebranding themselves. With one book out!
I think there’s something to be said for stepping back, taking a deep breath, and keeping the long view. Writing what you love, following your vision even if no one sees what you do on day one.
And perhaps a paying job lets a writer do that. Something other than writing that can cover the basic needs and let a writer live life and gain experiences.
I can’t tell you how much of my travels and work and life experience are in my stories. It’s crazy scary sometimes to see how much of myself is in some of my writing. (Not in obvious, file the numbers off and write true stories as fiction ways. More in how that trip to Thailand suddenly shows up in a story, lending depth and variety to a setting.)
Sitting at home alone doesn’t create those kinds of memories…Reading articles on the internet doesn’t give you the taste and smell and feel of a place or an experience.
Getting out into the world does. Living and loving does.
I’m not yet ready to go back to a paying job. Not at all. I have an adorable puppy asleep on the couch here and I want as much time with her as I can get. And I have aging family that won’t be here in a decade if I get sucked into some job that consumes me.
But notice how those reasons aren’t about writing? For me, writing is a means to an end.
To many ends.
It’s a lifestyle choice. A way for me to step away from corporate life to focus on personal life, but still maintain some sort of purpose and forward momentum.
It’s about balance. Always. In all things.