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.
You speak of a dilemma I am wrestling with too. Balancing work, everyday life, writing fiction and my blog and Facebook posts is difficult. I enjoy all of these forms of expression. They fulfill a need in me to share my creative self and my personal interests. I need to make some changes too. I have some ideas as well. I won’t be making any hasty decisions but I will be changing how I handle things going forward.
Good luck with your own ‘revision.’
PS I look forward to reading your column in Realms of Fantasy.
Yes, the eternal dilemma of the creative person who also has a life. If you find something that works, let me know and I’ll pay you for the formula.
Good luck, this all sounds very exciting!
Thanks, guys! And I do think keeping up with a blog and facebook are both important in terms of the writing, Curt. I might actually write about that . . . Yes, we’re all struggling with this issue, although I do feel tremendously lucky to have the problem of too many writing opportunities! I bet there’s no formula, just constant thinking about how to compromise.
Very Nice website. I recently built mine and i was looking for some design ideas and your website gave me some. May i ask you whether you developed the website by youself?
Hi Cheryl! I’m sorry to write that your comment was caught in the spam filter. I just got it out, so I’m hoping you’ll still see this reply. Yes, I built it myself using WordPress. The template is called 2010, and it was very easy to use. I put the entire site together in about two days, although I’ve made some changes and added a lot of content since. My own design ideas come from Terri Windling, who has the most beautiful site I know. She’s listed under links, so feel free to go look at hers! And I’m so glad to have inspired another blogger!
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