For the love of it

For the love of it

It’s been a week since my meltdown, and I think I’ve mostly pulled myself together with the help of friends and family. Thank you again. You know who you are.

I’ve been taking it easy, adding things back to my to-do list a little at a time. It was good that I had work that wasn’t my own to do for a few days–there was Lightspeed work, and Geek’s Guide work (new role, which I’ll blog about later), and StarShipSofa work. Being of service gave me a little bit of breathing room to collect myself and get some perspective.

Next I went through my “Inactive” folder. I have two folders for short stories, one (“Active”) for stuff I’m actually working on, and the other for stuff I’m not. Inactive stuff may be nothing but a hastily typed idea that I thought was interesting enough to warrant a working title, or it may be a completed draft of a story I lost interest in before I got around to revising it. The Inactive folder has a LOT in it. I went through all of it, and found three things that seemed like they might be fun to work on, and elevated them to Active. One was a nearly-complete draft, which I finished in a hurry and sent out for critique, and two were barely-formed ideas that just need words.

Finally I started rereading my favorite book on writing, Ray Bradbury’s “Zen in the Art of Writing.” There is absolutely nothing about technique in this book, no lectures on the use of adverbs or point of view or structure or pace. It’s just a series of pep talks; it’s Ray telling us that he did it and so can we, and reminding us that we’re in it for the love of it. He talks about identifying our loves and our fears, and tells us what he did with those things, and invites us to do them too. It’s like a hug in book form, and it has helped a lot.

So it’s sort of back-to-basics time for me. Back to things like word count and first drafts and being unafraid to suck. I learned in a different chapter of my life that sometimes we have to treat ourselves like bare beginners, and set our expectations back to zero–not with a sense of defeat, just in an effort to be gentle with ourselves. For now I’m treating myself like I would treat someone who has just started this journey, when the only thing you can really do is wave your pom-poms and say “Just keep writing! Forget about outcomes. Don’t worry about whether it will ever sell, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Ignore your Inner Editor, and just write full steam ahead. Write for the love of it. Write, because you know you can’t do otherwise.”


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