Of writing careers, what you’re supposed to want, and what you actually want
My writing career? Wait, I have one?
There have been so many narratives around this. What I should do and how I should do it. What the goal is and how, by now, a book with my name on it should have been published.
Should it have been? Is that fair to say.
I stopped writing for a long time. Not knowing what to say or what to do. I’d come to the page not really wanting more than to write a couple of good words but leaving in a big sigh. Then life came and took whatever energy and time I had hoped to dedicate myself to my writing.
In short, I want to say that 2021 wasn’t great for writing or whatever writing career I think I had.
2021 was also the year to undo the narratives, the stories I told myself to survive life. See that word choice there, survive, not live. That was what I was doing. And yes, it was the age of pandemic, and before that was mom’s cancer, and before that the aftermath of Harvey, and before that was the aftermath of surviving suicide and starting over. Got it. I have rightfully been in survival mode. Gotcha.
But when can I stop surviving and just exist? Like when?
Let’s add to this something I’m rather ashamed of admitting, even to myself. I am jealous of my writer friends. They are publishing books and collections and living their writing lives. And I feel like I’m being left behind. They are achieving what I had always wanted, what I had pursued with vigor and I don’t have anything to hang my hat on.
It’s at this point I want to point out these are my feelings. They deserve these accolades. They have worked for them. They have worked damn hard.
Doesn’t mean, though, I’m not both happy for them and jealous of them. Doesn’t mean I don’t compare myself to their success everyday and let my brain say the meanest things to me.
And it does say the meanest things to me until I’m wounded.
So, back to these narratives, right? These you must publish, and you are no one if you don’t publish, and it has to be with a publisher, and self-publishing isn’t valid conversations I have with myself. I have asked this wounded and survival mode me — what do I want? Why did I get into this writing gig? What was the goal anyway?
This was the goal — I wanted to write my books, my stories, my whatever, from my own place, and share them with the world. I wanted autonomy on what I wrote creatively and be paid for it.
It wasn’t about publishing or publishers. It wasn’t about competition. It wasn’t about contracts. It was about me, in my well-earned elderly years, still writing a book series that people loved. It was about telling stories and LOVING the process.
It was about the work, not the clout.
And that — right there — is the narrative that needs to surpass all this publishing bullshit. That is what I am about.
Man, I just want to write.
So, duck it, I’m going to do the opposite of what I’m supposed to do.
I’m self-publishing, bitches! And I’m taking back control of my website and what I write about. Because sometimes:
I want to write about my mother.
I want to write about my life.
I want to write about my writing.
I don’t want to write about my writing.
I want to vent.
I want to share a short story or a series.
I want to write essays.
I want to create.
I want to just live my life.
And that last one, that has to happen or all this can take a hike.
Also, I’m starting over with other things. New mailing list and a possible website redesign some time in 2022 (probably summer cause work). For now, I’ll be writing at Medium for awhile.
I’ll also be learning, or relearning, how to self-publish my work. Now, if publishing with a press happens it does, but I’m not chasing that anymore. I’m not chasing agents. I’m not chasing other writing clout things. I just want to concentrate on the work and being fulfilled by it. And if I’m not fulfilled by it, then I will walk away because I don’t need one more thing to survive.
Good God, I want to thrive, but I want to learn how to do it.
I’m stepping out on faith, as they say.
I’m betting on me.
Or whatever cliché makes you happy.
In 2022, I want to create what I want to create. I want to build the creative life I want and not what I’m supposed to want. And if I fail, then I fail but it would have been mine.
Or I could be wildly successful at this.
Who knows! Let’s see, shall we?
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