15 Jul 2009

The future (or the next fourteen months, anyway) starts here…

Firstly, let me once again thank those who read my short story The Bug in the Suit over at Electric Spec and dropped a comment. Appreciated. Secondly, I want to say a few things about where I am with writing at the moment.

For a number of years now I have swung between continuing writing and tossing everything I’ve ever written into some cardboard boxes and simply ‘lofting’ the lot. Chasing dreams can be a tiresome business, it’s true, and after twelve years I may (or may not) be ready to accept I took a wrong turn somewhere. After all, there are other paths…

In recent months, though I have not quit per se I have been woefully unproductive, stuck in a limbo-like state of will-I-or-won’t-I-ness, sedating myself with television and videogames. But it occurred to me yesterday that these distractions are merely putting some soft distance between myself and the decision – to either stop work or work harder.

Stop and I free up a lot of time evenings and weekends to try other pursuits, such as a home-study course, something that might actually get me somewhere – a higher-paying job, security for our children (none yet, but on the horizon). Writing demands a lot of time and mental energy, I find. If I use my spare time to continue writing, there will be room for little else. So, it’s the ole heart-says/head-says dilemma…

Thing is, when I have stopped in the past for any extended period of time the world seemed less interesting, quite tiresome in fact. Writing, for almost as long as I can remember, has been my way of understanding myself and others – of tunnelling through life’s muddy complexities to find sunshine – or moonlight – at the other end. So, arguably, I need it. Whether it needs me is another matter, perhaps even the root of the problem.

So, I have chosen a sensible compromise. I will resume writing, pick up from where I left off a while back, and continue for the next fourteen months, until our next overseas holiday – no better time to reassess things, I think. At that time, if I feel I have made little to no progress I WILL give up the dream. There, I typed it.

Guess I better get to work.

8 comments:

Ian said...

A deadline. I salute you, sir. I hope you find a way to combine all those goals.

Aaron Polson said...

I hope the next fourteen bring balance and clarity.

Catherine J Gardner said...

Have a beautiful fourteen months. I need a goal.

Barry Napier said...

Well said. I have often wondered if sticking with writing would be worth it in the end...2 kids and a mortgage to contend with and one wonders if chasing such a hard-to-catch dream is worth it.

Best of luck with your own chase!

Steven J. Dines said...

Thanks for the comments, people. I'll be posting (hopefully) regular updates on what I'm working on, progress, etc. It's a daunting task, no doubt, but a sensible decision all the same. I think I need this pressure to (again, hopefully) perform!

Bob Jacobs said...

I don't agree with you giving yourself a 14 month deadline, Steven. Who's to say the breakthrough for you won't come in 16 months, or 24, or in five years?

Why put a time limit on it at all? You have a life, one life, and you're free to choose whether and when to write for as little or as long as it suits you, circumstances permitting.

None of us knows what lies ahead. I can't say whether you'll ever succeed, whatever 'succeed' means to you. But I can say that I've come across a lot of people in writing forums who can't write for toffee and a much smaller number of people who write well, and you're in the small group of those who write well.

Maybe you'll never succeed. Maybe I won't, either. But with little to show for my first five years, I've given up a few other things in the last six or seven months to enable me to at least take my writing more seriously. I don't have a time frame in mind, no deadlines for achieving success, and no real definition of what might represent success.

If my life ends tomorrow, I leave behind little in the way of a writing legacy, but I had a great life. If it lasts another ten years, or thirty years, or more, maybe I'll have written something memorable, maybe not. I shall try. I've got as long as that in which to try.

You write well. If it's working for you, stick at it. If it's not, take a break then try again or come at it from a different angle.

No-one who gave up ever wrote anything worth reading.

Cheers,
Rob

Steven J. Dines said...

Can't say I disagree with anything you've said, Rob. Nevertheless, I feel I need to do this to get me back on track and settle some of my issues. I used to work hard at this and crave success (Pro-level sales, for example, not for the money but for feeling that I hit that standard) but it seems these days I still want to achieve that level without putting in the work. I've become disenchanted with certain aspects, too, and it's made me increasingly lazy and disinterested. So, again, I feel as though I need this to make me refocus on what's important - doing the work. Perhaps naively I still believe that if I can do that - work hard, produce - the rest will take care of itself.

As for progress, I'm not talking money and book deals here, just one or two encouraging signs that, yes, it's worth making sacrifices in order to chase the dream beyond these fourteen months.

In some ways I feel as if I've peaked, gone as far as I can with this thing, and the deadline is my way of pushing myself into writing more and writing better. After several gloomy months, I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Rich said...

You know what, maybe it's a good thing.

Having a deadline as monumental as that and firmly believeing you would stick to it, may just be the incentive you need to get going again.

The problem you have is when writing becomes suh a massive part of your life, that the pressure to make money from it become apparent. When you have a young family (mines grown by one, btw!) it becomes incresingly difficult to spend every evening sat at a lap top ignoring everyone, or using annual leave to write for 5 days when you could be down the beach, at the park, just basically enjoying father-hood.

I have to admit to not writing since February which is why I'm pursuing my art for a while. I have a very particular writing problem in that I've built this ability to write saleable stories under 1000 words only! Every time I extend beyond that, I go out of my comfort zone and really struggle.

A break seems to be doing me the world of good, maybe it will for you.

I whole-heartedly agree with Rob that you are one of the few talented writers I've come across.

Hope it worls out.

Rich (ART)