What happens when a writer decides to stop writing? I found out a few months ago. It was my fault, of course. I’d taken my passion and turned it into something stressful. More like work than play. Joy had left the building – my office at least. My brain rebelled and misery seeped through the tension like blood from an open wound. (Give me a break, I do write crime, you know.)
It was too much. The writing deadlines, the literary events, the number of new books to be read, digested – god forbid reviewed, no time for that. The market flooded as everyone and his brother – or sister, as the case may be – were self-publishing. Excuse me, that’s no longer politically correct – it’s independently publishing. Something I vowed never to do.
Now, before you get your drawers in a knot, I’m not criticizing those who want their books in print and then do everything in their power to make it happen. On the contrary, I have a rather grudging respect for them. But it’s not for me.
I’ll continue to polish my novels, maybe even send a few more queries. I did get an exciting nibble a few months back. It was on what they termed my ‘dark thriller’. Perhaps it was too dark for them. Trends change. If I started writing traditional mysteries, the publishers would be sending out calls for stories about little old ladies dragging blood spattered axes behind them. (Now we’re back to my dark thriller.) There shouldn’t be trends in the publishing industry. What happened to just a damn good story? Don’t get me started.
Anyway, the whole … writing thing … was getting me down. I was running as hard as I could and not getting anywhere fast. So that’s when I took a timeout. No writing. If I can go for a couple of months without sitting at the computer, then I can escape forever.
After a few weeks, several weeks actually which is more than just a few, I had an overwhelming urge to write. I bought a new journal. Something special. I rooted through my desk drawer for my treasured Cross pen, sleek, silver and engraved. It had been a gift. At least thirty years old – older than some of the writers whose books are on the bestseller list. Never mind.
I opened the tooled leather cover and began to write. I wrote like no one would read it. My philosophies on life, my regrets – I know we’re not supposed to have any, but who doesn’t – and something magical happened. It felt good. I felt good. I couldn’t remember the last time I hand wrote anything, aside from a grocery list, which is usually indecipherable.
Journaling had been a life-long habit. One that I’d neglected when I began writing stories. I’d stopped looking inward, never scratching deeper than the surface, thinking I knew what I wanted without reflection.
This brings to mind something a published friend said to me. “Be very careful what you wish for.” These cryptic words echoed repeatedly through my mind. Sage advice. Not that I’ve given up on my aspirations. No, I’ve simply put things back into perspective.
And so here I am. Back at the keyboard. Void of expectation. Void of commitment – relatively speaking. I’ve put the joy back into writing. It’s a passion, not a job.
Yesterday, my husband stopped at the open door to my office. “Haven’t seen me here for awhile, have you?” I said. He didn’t comment but I think he was pleased. As if everything had fallen back into place.