Sunday, February 7, 2016

Little by Little

Thinking out loud today...

...I’m still content in my decision not to publish another novel.

People have said that I wouldn’t stick to it, that I would cave and who knows, maybe someday they’ll be right. 

But right now, months after making the decision to focus on getting the word out about the books I’ve already had published instead (thank you, Booktrope!) something strange has happened.

I’ve started sharing my writing again… just not by publishing another book.

I’ve gone home in a sense; I’m back to serializing a story.

Serialized fiction is how I got most of my writing experience. 

Between 1997 and 2011, I wrote serialized fiction consistently, almost constantly, with more than one group of writers. Characters numbering in the dozens, though I did (and still do) have my favorites.

Eventually, in 2007 I ended up founding a group of my own and it was a small, tight knit set of folks who knew something about how to put sentences together to make a touching, entertaining, funny, heartrending, amazing story.

I think the following quote may be my favorite thing I ever wrote during that time, and it was for my favorite character:

I miss those people, my crew. I miss those characters dearly as well. But it was a time that has come and gone. I will always look back with fondness, but my days of group writing seem to be behind me as well as publishing does.

And that’s okay.

Because with the help of a lot of thinking, contemplating, and a lot of reading (too many books to name, though I WILL mention Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert—both OUTSTANDING) I’m finding my writing voice again, and it’s by taking a story I started last fall and posting it online, on Wattpad, as it evolves.

It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

Not only because I’m not entirely sure whether or not the story is completely finished yet (though I’ve written an ending that I love) but because it’s going out into the world in an imperfect state—without a proofreader combing through it first.

It’s just my words. Out there. To tell a story. Just like in the old days only on a bigger stage.

And people seem to be digging that. Better still, I’m digging that. So it’s all good.

For a long time I have railed against the stereotype that I had, sadly, even assigned to myself: That of the miserable, despairing artist. I’m not sure if I’d have written the stories I have without the times in my life when grief, sorrow, loss, and mania drove me to the keyboard and wouldn’t let me stop until the words were all there.

But it’s a destructive way to live, and I don’t want to do any more damage to myself than the Bipolar already does any more.

That’s what I really appreciate about Big Magic: Gilbert writes extensively about this idea of not having to suffer for your art to be an artist, and it really resonated with me, too.

If you’re struggling with feeling worthy of even being called a writer, or singer, or dancer, or artist, or ANYTHING, I recommend that you get your hands on a copy of that book sooner rather than later.

Because it helped to affirm for me that my instincts have been right for a long while now; I’m not supposed to die for my art.

I’m supposed to live, so I can make more art.

People may love it, they may hate it.

But at least it will be my contribution to the wonderful array of noise, words, melodies, and sights that make the rest of life worth getting through.

I’ll give my best to my art, not just my sorrow and my sadness.

I know, already, that my Muse is thanking me for doing so.

I’m just trusting in the journey… that even when there are dry times, the words will come back to me eventually.

Last Friday I wrote a piece of micro-fiction I am particularly fond of, to a prompt. The prompt was the word “blatant” and it was to be written for the Friday Phrases group on Twitter.

I wrote the following:

It feels like the best thing I’ve written in ages, and it tells me something.

It tells me that by seeking to find the joy in the process again and not worrying what others think, that I may have more inside of me left to give than I ever imagined.

Little by little the chains are breaking free… and I won’t stop until I am dancing through the fields of beautiful words again; unfettered, joyful, and rapturously grateful.