BE-ing in Exchange for Success: Part II of Oct. IWSG Post
First let me say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who stopped by yesterday. Your comments were warm and the encouragement was much needed. I am constantly amazed by this fabulous group of writers that I've fallen in with. I started here some 7-8 years ago and it's been a wonderful ride. Even though I tend to get off the trail, switch horses, or set up camp in the woods for years on end, you are all still here, riding along solidly, ready to welcome a wandering soul back into the fold.
I am grateful. Truly.
I've been rolling around in my head the post I did yesterday. I realized it could mean two different things and it seems to have signaled a pause in my writing. Granted, I've needed that in the past (as we all do from time to time) but that's not the case this time. THIS time, I NEED to write. My hands literally (and I'm using this in the real and 'literal' sense here) itch when I think up a story or have an old tale return to my imagination. It's kind of weird, actually. Isn't there an old wives' tale that says if your palms itch, company's coming?
Does that ring true for characters? The ever elusive Muse?
There's a research project in that, kids!
Anyway, this permission to just BE is something everyone should give themselves. It is especially important for creatives. You see, I believe we are born with an innate knowing of who we are and where we belong. It's an instinct bred from stars. We KNOW who we are at a very young age, even if that knowing manifests itself in immature or contrary ways.
The very first thing I ever remember wanting to do was write. I can remember being somewhere around 4 or 5 and telling an uncle that I wanted to be a doctor but I knew that wasn't true. I wanted to be a writer. A story teller. I said "Doctor" because it impressed, even though I didn't understand "impress" at that young age. Prior to that, I'd written stories at home, in school, and I was always and forever making up games for myself and my imaginary friends. (My imaginary friend at the time was Mickey Mouse. Apparently I had celebrity connections in Imaginary Friend World.)
You see, THAT'S what I'm talking about. That need to impress. That, "Gosh if I tell them I want to write historical romance they're going to think I'm nuts!" mentality that makes us answer, "hard-boiled crime fiction" when someone asks, "So, what do YOU write?"
And have you noticed, until you're published, people ask it that way. What do YOU write? as if we're just another one of a million book author hopefuls who really can't write but think we'll be rich and famous one day? Now that's a soapbox for another time entirely.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand: there's a need in all humans to be accepted. For whatever reason there are groups of people who view the arts as something nice to do on a rainy day or something to remember when you retire from your "real" job. There is another group who sees the arts as a viable career, but only if the type or medium or genre fits in with their idea of "successful" art. Or, in my experience, their idea of what YOU should be creating.
Ah, now we're getting down to the bones of the issue. We want people to be proud of us. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunt Edna, Uncle Phillip who secretly writes prize-winning Haiku under a pen name so all "the boys" won't know it's him. We want them to be proud of us! And rightfully so! No shame in that. But there are those genres, those art forms, that tend to get a gasp or a confused scratch of the head when mentioned. Or my personal favorite, the apprehensive step backwards.
Finding our place in art takes experimentation. Some people write what sells and they make a good living at it. I applaud them. I'm not able to do that. I've tried. I have a couple of finished and half finished manuscripts that I pounded out because I thought it made more sense than what I really wanted to write. And they have potential, truly. And I'll probably finish them one day and see what happens with them. Maybe I'd be foolish not too. Seriously: one of these books I wrote the first draft in 8 days. How very Hemingway of me. Why NOT pound out book after book, month after month, and submit it. What if they're successful?
Well, what if they are? Am I being un-authentic? No, not as long as I'm still being true to myself in other writing.
Perhaps THAT'S what I'm really insecure about. If I write something because it came to be easily and it was one of those, "Wow. That was kind of a breeze" things, am I selling out? Or am I being smart and taking advantage of a good idea whose time has come?
I guess as long as I still write what my soul's begging me to write, I'm doing OK. Those tales just take longer. They demand a lot from me and that's why I've shirked them. Not very loving of me, eh?
Sorry for the long post. It is rather rambling but I'm curious: have you ever put your true stories on hold -the ones that haunt you- for stories that came easily? Ones that seem to be quicker to create and possibly quicker to sale? We can't know that for sure, but I'm talking about appearances here.