Today’s post is dedicated to all writers, big and small. And to surviving writerly struggles, big and small.
I met a writer friend recently at a party. I’ve known this person for years now. We published our first books around the same time and we keep in touch on a fairly regular basis. So he pulls me aside and asks, “Do you still enjoy writing? Aren’t you tired of churning out books?”
I have to admit, I didn’t quite get the question right away. I want to keep on writing for as long as I live. It’s the most wonderful and satisfying job I’ve had in my life. But turns out he wasn’t asking about me. He was asking about himself. He was, through me, trying to do some soul-searching. Turns out after he’d written his first and only book, he was exhausted. He didn’t know what else to do with writing. That book, he claims, was it.
“There are no more stories left in me,” he says.
I didn’t know what to tell him. Oh well, I did tell him that no one had just one story in them. That he just had look for the rest.
“But I’d only planned for one.” That made me shut up for then.
Later, I gave it more thought and tried to get to the bottom of his struggles. Assuming he still loves writing, I think the problem was in his mind. He forgot to keep scaling his plans. He had to dream beyond writing just one books. Agreed, no one starts to build a castle before they have learned to build a regular building. But no self-respecting architect puts up a tent or builds a tenement and says that’s all I had planned for so that’s all I’ll build in my lifetime. Assuming, of course, that he still enjoys building.
We have to take one baby step at a time. But we can have grand plans or we can keep growing our plans as we grow ourselves. If we don’t, then we stagnate. And perish.
For me, every year things are a little different. As time passes, it matures us (true in most cases, but obviously there are famous exceptions to every rule). Along with that maturity, our needs change and so does our goals.
Just a day or two ago, a friend who I used to meet quite frequently when I started out asked me about my writing enterprise. When I told her that I now have published 12 books, with 4 more about to hit the digital stands this year, she gawked. Not because she didn’t expect double digit numbers, but because back when I met her often and discussed my plans with her, I myself had no plans to ever hit double digit numbers. Now, 12 seems minuscule to me. Don’t get me wrong, making 12 books was incredibly hard work and I’m proud of each and every one of them, but it’s far from where I want to go. My goals have shifted massively in a couple of years. The more I write, the more I want to write.
A week or so ago, the spouse asked if I planned to stick to writing. I realized the reason for the question—a year ago I’d drawn up a plan. If I didn’t hit a certain earning level in a certain number of days, I was going to re-prioritize things. Now, however, my plan is different. All I plan to do is keep ramping up my writing.
To my friend at the party, I only have to say this—look inside you and see if writing still makes your heart soar, even a little. If not, it’s no big deal, find something you really want to do. But if it does still make your heart sing, draw up some new plans. Dream it up, friend. You know, there’s no limit to those.