Blogging, reading and commenting on other folks’ blogs, interviewing and being interviewed, doing podcasts, running contests, participating in challenges, running workshops, responding to emails, Facebook and Twitter. When does one find time to write? Studying markets, reading commentaries from agents and editors, scanning publications, crafting stories likely to fit the demand and to ride the trends. When can one have the chance to write what’s really in one’s heart?
The circus of demands is the new writer’s life. It’s noisy, busy, sometimes fun, too often a headache. It’s the writer’s life in the new world of fierce competition, of supplying content, of meeting the new challenges of technology. It’s a world that moves fast, with windows of opportunity that open and close as quick as a fanning barnacle. And it takes us writers into swirling eddies far from where we wanted to go.
In my own case, I’ve managed to score a few successes with short stories. But I’ve stumbled onto my greatest success not with my fiction, but with articles written for the newspaper, observations of life in New Hampshire through a philosophical lens, which start out in one direction but then meander around to tie up with a point. I’m suddenly in demand, getting paid regularly, getting noticed. I find the articles fairly easy to write, I’ve no shortage of ideas. But is this where my heart is? Not really.
I’m taking on more volunteer work for Broad Universe, and it will necessarily cut into my writing time. But it’s a great organization that has done a lot for me, and I feel I ought to give something back. Besides, it gets me out of my shell and in contact with some interesting and influential people in the biz. It’s that “making connections” thing. And I’m writing this essay for my website, posting regularly, and checking out what other folks have to say on their websites. That “generating traffic” thing. I go to conventions when I can, because it gives me face time with people I enjoy being with, forcing me to push my comfort zone in new directions, trying out new skills. It’s that “getting your name out there” thing.
But I’d rather be back in the cabin in the woods without electricity or running water, sitting on the porch with my laptop (which I have to take up to the main house once a day to recharge), working on revisions to my novels. Novels which may or may not ever get published, for which I did absolutely no market research, for which I have no clear target audience, but into which I pour a pure passion for creation. When I mention my cabin, my isolated retreat, I get a lot of envious comments.
We writers. We want to do what we do so badly that we do a hundred things that aren’t really what we want to do just on the chance that someday we might be able to do what is in our hearts to do.
Good luck to all of us.