What Writers Are
It’s four in the morning, or something like that, and having found myself sleepless — no, I actually don’t have any idea why — I’m at my keyboard banging out blog posts, and wanting to work on the current novel, but the mind is foggy from lack of sleep.
And something from a video I watched about strategies for making it indie is running through my mind. The gentleman, who only writes books about how to make it in indie derided the “write a lot” aka “the brute force” or “shotgunning” strategy as “Sure, it works, but you have to keep writing.”It took me a while to digest that phrase, it was so strange.
Come backs kept running through my mind:
“What did he think people did after they wrote a lot of novels? Go off and play golf?”
“What else would I do?”
Or even “And?”
So… My name is Sarah A. Hoyt and I’m a writer.
I’ve tried to quit. Every time the field, the general craziness of gatekeepers, or my own inadequacy to accurately transcribe the stories in my head breaks my heart, I try to quit. So, roughly once a week, give or take.
Some quitting is more serious than other. I once made it two weeks not just without writing but avoiding thinking about writing. In practical truth this meant I only thought about avoiding thinking about writing.
To compensate, I cleaned the house — ten times at least — and dusted or cleaned or bathed everything that held still long enough, kids, cats and husband included.
At the end of the two weeks, a delegation of the other inhabitants of the house, which included the cats and the then pre-verbal younger son, gathered together to demand I go back to writing. Right straight away. Or the day before, if possible.
The truth is being a writer, at least if you’ve worked at it for any amount of time, isn’t a job. It’s a vocation, a characteristic of the creature, or perhaps an illness. Writing: the creation of worlds and characters, the necessity to tell these stories to, at the very least, get them out of your head, weaves itself through your being, until you couldn’t figure out how to be without writing.
Jordan Peterson says that creatives who have somehow talked themselves out of creating often come to his — clinical psychology — practice with a fantastic variety of symptoms that amounts to “being a zombie.” If he can get them to create again, they’re miraculously cured.
Writer is not something you do, it’s who you are.
Now yes, it’s possible to beat a writer so badly that he develops an aversion to writing. This is sort of like those programs which beat people so badly they develop an aversion to food or sleep. In the long run, it will kill you.
So if you — I — find yourself particularly disgusted with … various things, but mostly yeah, gatekeepers (and yes, there is an indie for that. Working on it, okay) and have been beaten down to the point you can no longer work, be aware that this is not healthy or good. You are in the position of the Spaniard’s donkey in the joke my mom used to tell me: There was a Spaniard sitting and lamenting by his dead donkey. When asked what had happened, he explained he had been teaching the donkey to stop eating. “And just when he was getting good at it, he up and died.”
I tried to take a day off on Sunday, part of a new thing I’m attempting: a day off without writing, which means a day off without thinking of writing, fighting to write (or not) or actually doing anything else to fill the time with no writing. Just “a day of rest.” This meant couldn’t rotate the cat. No house cleaning. No gardening. I was allowed long walks and other leisure activities only.
This made it clear to me how much of me is devoted to being a writer. I can’t read without thinking of writing. I can’t walk without thinking of writing. Even watching TV (okay, okay, British Mystery series, because it sort of almost holds my attention, at least if Icrochet at the same time) makes me think of writing.
It is who I am. If you’re a writer, it is probably who you are too.
My name is Sarah A. Hoyt, and I’m a writer.
I can’t break it, escape it or destroy it without destroying myself.
So I might as well write. Always.