"Do what brings you life. Do not do what deadens you." – Alan Cohen
It’s been said that shiny baubles and sparkly objects attract magpies. Apparently, they thieve such items to weave into their nests, perhaps to attract a mate.
While this can apply to hoarders, collectors and obsessive consumers—as well as dabblers and dilettantes—I’ve come to believe that this syndrome can apply to writers, too.
And I think I may be suffering from it.
Books with the prettiest covers, widespread attention and commercial success are fiction. And, having read my share of poorly written fiction, I’ve concluded “Hell, I can do better than that!”
But after three novel attempts—with encouraging feedback and “I want to see what happens!” (even from seasoned readers and published mentors)—I’m beginning to suspect that I’m deluding myself.
I’m enamored with brainstorming and new ideas. Although I’m a finisher, starting is so much more fun for me. That, and the immediate gratification of instant creativity. My husband suspects that is why I love blogging so much: I think it, I write it, I select pictures to accompany it, and BOOM! it’s out for public consumption in under 30 minutes. Same with reviewing.
There is no laboring with these types of writing, no angsting over rewrites. Come to think of it, there’s little labor or re-writing with my non-fiction books, too. The inner editor keeps me on track as I write, for the most part.
As I was talking to Ron before he left for work, he made a remark that jolted me more than he realizes, “For someone whose path is so clearly marked, you sure have a hard time figuring out what to do.”
What he meant by that is that I love writing Mind/Body/Spirit books—especially Tarot—and it’s easy for me. I mean, every part of it. Easy to come up with ideas, easy to innovate, easy to write, easy to query, easy to propose and easy to cinch yet another book deal. (Sure, it took a lot of labor to GET so proficient, but I pretty much sail through things now). If you love it, and you’re good at it, it’s your path…right?
See, I have a strong Warrior Archetype in my psyche and I think this pattern—which has served me well in overcoming major obstacles—has convinced me that any worthwhile path must be uphill. A difficult challenge. Laborious.
It’s no secret that I detest the lazy, the slackers—and the mindless who don’t question anything, especially their own assumptions.
Perhaps I’ve erroneously assumed that if something is easy for me (forgetting that it wasn’t always), I’m somehow “lazy”, or that my endeavor isn’t worthwhile.
I’ve been asking myself some hard questions about writing. Questions like:
- Just because I can write fiction, does that mean I need to? Or even want to (deep down)?
- What do I think fiction publication will give me that non-fiction writing won’t (other than illusionary “big bucks” and long-shot recognition)?
- If it’s not fun to write fiction—if it’s 98% unenjoyable grunt work—then what in the hell am I doing?
As I’m re-reading what I wrote, I feel a bit silly. It’s like being handed bliss on a platter (which my life is, outside of writing-related angst) and saying “Oh, no. I think I’d like to forage for my own food in a dense forest 1,000 miles from here, which I’ll arrive at on foot, and then cook my meal when I get there”.
What about you, dear reader? What causes you angst in your writing life? Have you ever been torn between genres? Or wondered where the hell the “best path” for your creative life lies?