When I drove to my last Scribes meeting, I worried I’d be late. The main road I always take was closed for repairs. I turned on another road I use often, and it was closed farther down for road repairs, too. I turned into a housing addition I know well to connect with a cut-through road, only to find a train had stopped and parked on the railroad tracks. Workers were walking from car to car, checking connections. It looked like the train wasn’t going to move any time soon. I finally ended up taking another route.
I zigged and zagged my way to the library where we meet, five minutes ahead of time. A miracle. It made me think of my writing career. I’ve taken plenty of detours to get to where I am now. I’ve belonged to Scribes for a long time, and I’ve met lots of other writers, and most of them have been forced to travel circuitous routes in their careers, too.
When I first started writing–way back in the cave drawing days–I firmly believed that good writing equalled a writing career. I still firmly believe in good writing, but I’m not so naive any more. Many wonderful writers can’t find a publisher. They write for the wrong market, or the glutted market, or the highly competitive market. Even if they self-publish, some focus on writing and neglect marketing and fizzle. Not-so-wonderful writers have made a lot of money. Why? Because they deliver a story, an emotion, something new that readers want, and they make sure that their writing doesn’t get in the way–the difference between not-so-good and bad. If a writer makes one grammar mistake after another, can’t spell, and can’t tell a clear story. . .well, he’s in trouble. But there are writers who aren’t wordsmiths, but deliver a new product, something untapped, and they can become bestsellers. Not the same as brilliant word choice, wonderful pacing, and an ingenious plot, but just as effective. Heck, more effective, because what they do hasn’t been done. Those books can hit the top ten even if critics pan them.
It’s not just publishing and marketing that make us detour, either. We all tuck our writing between everything else that happens in our lives. You just had a baby? Good luck if you have time to read a book, let alone write one. Jobs, health, aging parents, kids…everything affects our writing. When my girls were little, I worked hard to finish one book a year. Now, I can finish a book in three or four months. Still slow, compared to lots of writers. But then, I’ve always been the tortoise, not the hare. But right now, for this moment, I can focus on my writing. Nothing’s tapping me on the shoulder, fighting for my time and attention. Okay, nothing but my husband. And bless him, he’s more than capable of entertaining himself. Still, people have been coming and going in our house lately. Lots of kids, friends, and family popping in and out. Does it affect my writing? Sure, it does. But in the long run, I know I’m going to write. I’ll write around other peoples’ schedules, holidays, and necessities. It’s what I do.
I’ve read tweets about NaNoWriMo, and I picture those people chained to their laptops, hammering out words. Days like that are good. But I can never promise myself they’ll happen. What I can promise myself is that I’ll write around everything I possibly can. And if I do that enough, I’ll end up with a book. Hope you’re finding your writing rhythm, too.
P.S. I put Babet and Prosper’s chapter 7 up on my webpage: http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/
My author’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JudithPostsurbanfantasy/
on twitter: @judypost