Questioning the Dream: AKA What the HELL Am I Thinking?

So I want to be a writer. Maybe. A couple of years ago, I couldn’t think about anything else. I was going to write a brilliant book — or at least brilliant enough to get a contract — and become a real, professional writer. Then life got in the way for awhile and I was forced to take a little break from my dogged pursuit of a literary contract. And got some freaking perspective.

When I arrived in Newark last week, I rode to the hotel with a published author. She was talking about getting out three books a year, doing signings and promotion, etc. Just listening to her, I was exhausted. While I realize most writers do not produce three books a year, I also heard several women talking about how they were spending a week in New York to do promotion, sign contract, network, yada yada, and all I could think of was how much I did not want to do all that stuff.

Then something occurred to me. It wasn’t something I didn’t know already. It wasn’t a revelation. But it suddenly struck me in a fit of clarity. Writing is a hell of a lot of work. And I am lazy as hell.

I want to be a writer for several reasons. For one, my brain is doing it all the time anyway. All I have to do is type what my brain is dictating. Oh, and not totally screw it up as I do. I remember being a page at the library downtown when I was a kid. I’d wait out front for my mother to pick me up at the end of the day, and my brain would be writing. I just didn’t know it at the time. I’d walk along the sidewalks at college, my brain making lovely, lyrical prose. But I wasn’t a writer. I actually honed a lot of idea-fleshing techniques when I wrote my first book at age 13, when I would go for a jog when I got stuck. But I wasn’t serious about becoming a writer.

Then I had kids, got a job, and had no time whatsoever for anything else. Good time to start writing again, huh? Apparently was, because then I got serious about it. I blissfully went along pursuing a contract for about three years before life stepped in. In the last year, I’ve made one submission. Talk about half-assed.

But another reason I want to be a writer is because I am a bit of a recluse. If I write, I get to sit here at my computer and only have to go deal with people when absolutely necessary. Or when I want to. Right?

Um, guess not. There’s promotion to do, agents and editors to meet and please, signings, etc. As I sat there in the lobby at the Sheraton in Newark, I realized I didn’t want to do all that stuff. And yet I still pitched to an editor and am getting a submission together to send off. Why am I doing this?

To quit the day job? No. Don’t plan on leaving that even if I do get a contract. For the notoriety? Yeah. Whatever. Because I’m a glutton for punishment? I think we’re getting closer to the mark, there, but I think it’s something a friend of mine reiterated today, even as she fought through a book that’s killing her as she approaches her deadline. She told me that even though it can be a mother bear and cubs to be a published writer, it’s totally worth. I guess that’s what I’m hoping for.

So I put my trust in my friends and my gut and forge ahead. Now if I can just pull out that brilliant manuscript I had planned to write.


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