This morning I was encouraged that I may, indeed, have the stuff of the writer within. How so? I’ll tell you a story.
The local writers group finished its anthology. The planning, writing, collating, editing and formatting for publication ate up six months. No sooner had the group finished the work than one member started us writing again on a story circle. My task was to wrap the story up and bring it home. I finished that earlier this morning. Two hours later I was sending a message to the best editors in our group, suggesting a polishing of the circle story so it could be submitted to Glimmer Train Press, Inc.’s Open Fiction contest.
And, I thought to myself, they have an open theme contest every three months. What can we do for the next one?
My point is I congratulated myself for looking for opportunities to write. I patted myself on the back and thought, I am writer; hear me roar.
THEN I came upon an essay by Micah Nathan, a real writer, called “A Fatalist’s Manifesto.” He burst my writer’s bubble — at least he yanked me from an undeserved Cloud Nine. He pointed out how much is drained from a writer–ground from his bones, twisted from his sinews–in the writing process. And it gets worse as the writer gets better.
In it he says:
A Fatalist’s Manifesto
A student recently asked me if writing ever gets easier. It’s just so difficult, she said, then she sat back, folded her arms, and waited. I suspect she wanted to hear some good news, how the young writer continues to read and write and eventually finds the creative process no longer akin to tweezing out portions of one’s brain and smearing them onto a blank page. But what a lousy lie that would be. “It” doesn’t get easier and may actually get harder (a Clintonian parsing of what “it” means could take up an entire essay), and if “it” doesn’t get harder, then the writer has become lazy, and eventually even the hardest-working writer either runs out of endurance, money, or time.. . .
Reading the essay, I recognized I am still delirious in the delight of the dilettante when writing. I have nothing to lose because I have no professional recognition or status. I have no expectant fans. If that ever happens, I will understand what it means to work under the pressure to keep producing and to have every book be better than the last one.
For a reality check about the life of a professional author, read this. And have a bottle of Tums close by.