I really don’t like giving up on things that I’ve committed to. It absolutely tore me apart whenever I had to tell someone in an organization I was a part of that I needed to quit for one reason or another. I feel guilty about some of these things even years later, even when I know in hindsight that the decision was for the best. Maybe a part of it is that I hate being wrong, especially when it comes to my limits.
I can hear some of you making the assumption already, and no. I’m telling you right now that writing itself isn’t the problem, and I’m definitely not quitting. For me to stop writing would be like trying to stop respiring. I’ve tried a couple of times in the past, and then I always end up back in my desk chair (or bed, if my living situation didn’t have a desk), typing away at some imaginary world. It will take a lot to get me to shut the door on writing forever, and I’m not even close to that point.
The thing is that I’ve stretched myself a little thin. I’ve worked my very hardest at following the conventional wisdom of starting a blog and updating it consistently in order to build a following prior to the publication of anything major: I started out at twice a week, and then cut down to once a week pretty immediately after that (but more on that in a moment). I’ve tried to commit to multiple major writing projects at a time in the form of a couple of different NaNoWriMo events while revising an existing novel and querying another one. I committed to Milwordy, thinking that this would spur me on to write all of these projects, and I made a mental note to actively look for more writing gigs to help bolster that goal, ideally some that pay, as I have yet to make any money writing.
So for 2016, let’s call that three novellas, a novel, 52 blog posts of maybe 1,500 words each (because if you follow me, you know that I don’t do “short and sweet” very well), and whatever articles or short stories I could eke out in the meantime while otherwise living a healthy, functional human life. And all of these things, I was thinking, would add up to roughly one million words, and I could say that I did it. It was all pride, no matter how much I tried to tell myself (and you, dear readers) that it was so I could have a lot of material to work with.
The thing about pride is that it comes before a fall. It was too much to do, and every single thing I tried to work on suffered as a result, and in a way, I suffered for it as well. The larger source of my stress has, in all honesty, been this blog.
Which I also don’t plan on quitting, by the way. I love analyzing things and talking about craft. I could do that until you get sick of it. Where my stress and struggling came from, though, was trying to craft a well-formulated, decent-sized post once every seven days that connected to my writing and was also engaging to read. This didn’t end up working out for me for two reasons:
- My life really isn’t all that interesting, hence the fact that I write about other people;
- I was spending so much time and energy trying to come up with these posts that I wasn’t doing the things that should have been inspiring them—namely, writing stories.
And here we have this chicken-and-egg problem. I made the blog my priority instead of all the other writing because the post was the thing with the deadline (and in unusual cases, the more pressing and immediate of a number of deadlines). But how can I write about writing when I’m not actually getting any writing done?
The deadlines aren’t actually the problem. I can work with deadlines. Deadlines are great. But deadlines aren’t great if they don’t allow a reasonable amount of time to come up with a satisfying result—in my case, material, whether for this blog or to submit to other places. My deadlines were more along the lines of unrealistic expectations, anyway: in trying to meet all of these goals that I’ve set for myself, I haven’t been having the fun that I used to, and I haven’t made a dime. Both of those things would be ideal, but I need to strive for at least one of them, which I can’t do as I am right now. The only thing I’m good at making at my current pace is excuses. I need better, not more.
This likely contradicts with things that I’ve said before. And if you tell me that in the comments, I’ll probably agree with you and roll my eyes at myself, because I’m still learning and probably won’t stop. This entire career move has been a bit of trial and error, and it just so happens that it’s an error this time.
So what does that mean for me from here?
April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is a bust at 12,119 words, and it’s going to stay that way indefinitely (at least in this form). Like I’ve said in a previous post, I’ve stopped actively querying Heroes & Villains and plan on giving it a rest while I do some very serious thinking on whether or not it’s even a viable novel. Revisions with Familiaris will continue as planned and will receive the bulk of my attention and, if all goes well, will get to the beta reader stage by next year. I haven’t decided if I’ll move forward with the July and November NaNoWriMos: I might try to tackle November again for the sake of tradition, but if I take on July, I’ll more likely than not shift my focus to writing short stories and essays rather than trying to work on a novella-length piece while simultaneously working on a novel. I have many other ideas, but they can wait. I know for a fact that I will not hit the Milwordy goal by the end of this year, but for now I plan on keeping track of my word counts because, honestly, I’m kind of curious. With any luck, it will help me set more realistic goals in the future (because I have such a good track record for that, clearly).
And the change that affects you guys the most: for the foreseeable future, I won’t be writing once a week. I’m defining the new schedule as “every other Wednesday unless something really awesome happens (or I really goof up).” It’s a pattern I’ve already started, it would seem, having missed posting last week. This will give me the time to be able to write my biggest projects, seize opportunities rather than just kind of notice them go by, and find the inspiration necessary to bring you guys the quality content you deserve rather than numbered lists that are tangentially related to writing. This should be a step in the right direction in terms of getting me back to the entire reason I started doing this in the first place.
I feel as though I need to apologize, but my entire existence is marked by that compulsion, so that’s nothing new. So while I am sorry for yanking a really nice schedule out from under you for my own benefit, I guess I should also be sorry that I’ve been treating myself like a word processor rather than a writer. It turns out I’m human—crazy, right?
As for ending this post with a moral, artists? Don’t make my decisions. They’re stupid. You’ll hurt yourself.
See you in two weeks.