When I was at Boskone a couple weeks ago, I enjoyed hearing many professional authors describe their process, their routines, and their habits. They write for a living, and so they’re writing constantly. They might have a half dozen projects in various states of creation. They write novels, novellas, novelettes, short stories, and screenplays. They track markets. They talk with their editors and publishers, and if a trend indicates that a particular genre is hot, they’ll dive in, comfortably or otherwise. They’ll submit short stories to a dozen or more publications, weighing the feedback from each rejection. And they are always revising. They are constantly producing. This is the nature of the profession.
I’m a little embarrassed to say, I…uh…don’t do any of that.
I struggle with shorter forms; I’m more comfortable writing a full-length novel. I don’t really track markets (although I do follow a handful of blogs). I don’t write what’s hot. I don’t write every day. But as I heard each of these practices reiterated, I kept asking myself, “Am I a bad author if I don’t do that?”
And after a lot of thought, I realized my answer was, “No.” But I will be unknown, unpaid, and unpublished (by others). And for now, I’m all right with that.
Right now, I write what inspires me, and that’s Dante’s story, the Togahan’s Tale. I feel compelled to tell that story, get it all out, and refine it so that it’s the best story I can produce. It’s the one creation I have 100% control over, and I want to do it right. I’ve worked on it for close to twenty years at this point, and it’s probably taken me half of that to get my process down. Along the way, I’ve been distracted by a number of creative endeavors, because they were good ideas at the time, good ways to explore my creative writing. And while they have all been rewarding experiences, I keep coming back to the Togahan’s Tale. At this point in my life, it’s where I need—and want—to focus my creative energy.
I’m storming ahead with the editing on novel #3 now, and I’m enjoying it. My pace is slow, partly because I’m being methodical, but also partly because of the things I want to make time for – my wife, my daughters, my family, and friends. Add the day job and sleep, and there’s only so much time for writing, but I make the time, and balance it all, and I’m happy with it. I know a handful of readers are rabid for #3 (and #4, #5, #6…), and to you I say, “Thank you.” You are the fire that keeps me going. You’re a large part of what compels me to tell Dante’s story.
Some might say that I’m not serious about my writing for not doing the other work that professional authors do, or that I’m not serious because I don’t devote enough time to it. That’s not quite right. It means that I’m not a professional author, nor a consumed one. Right now, writing is still an expensive hobby, but it’s one that I enjoy and I hope that joy translates into the final product. I hope the interest catches on, and if I win that lottery ticket of fame and it affords me the income where I can write full time, then hell yes, I would write other forms, try other intriguing genres, and I will write much more than I do now.
In the meantime, with the precious time I have, I’m focused on producing the next installment of the Togahan’s Tale. I apologize for the wait, but I promise to make it worth your while. That I take very seriously indeed.