I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I need to write, because ever since World Fantasy Convention it’s been clear to me that this is the time, this is when I need to focus my life on writing. (If not now, when? This is it: I feel that very clearly, and I’m used to trusting and following my instincts.)
But what do I actually need to make that possible? Because there’s an idea out there that writers should be tough, should be able to write under any conditions – that being able to do so is, in fact, the mark of a serious writer. That’s just not true for me. I need time and silence, first of all. And in order to have true silence, I need to have silence not only around me, but in my head as well. All the voices that bother me, that tell me the bills need to be paid, or the laundry needs to be done, they have to be silent too.
So I need a certain kind of peace, a lack of other obligations that I feel the need to fulfill. And I need a place to write, a place that feels my own, that does not jar, that is not distracting. A place that is, if possible, actually pleasant to be in, not cold (as is the place I’m writing in tonight, despite the fact that I’ve put the space heater on high, right next to me). Not disordered, or I will feel the need to organize. Preferably a place with books, where I can simply reach for the particular references I need at any time.
Those are three things: time, space, silence.
I don’t have those things now, there are too many tasks I need to get done, too many obligations crowding my head, too many voices speaking to me, saying “Listen to me now, you must hear this.” And so what I write feels – well, as though it’s not my best work, as though it’s the work I can do in this environment, under these circumstances. But it’s time to do my best work, now. And so sometimes I despair, sometimes I feel as though I’ll never be able to do what I need to, more than I need to do almost anything – tell the stories that are in me.
I don’t know, of course, if they’re worth telling, but they’re the stories I have, and if there’s anything I am on this earth for, if I am anything other than a temporary use of carbon, it’s to tell my stories. As is true for all writers, I think.
The next year, for me, will be an attempt to find or make that space, time, and silence for myself. I have some ideas, I’m formulating plans. And I’ll just have to see if they work out.