Burn, Baby, Burn
Welcome back, again, Writerly Friends, to the posts that never end. (Huh. That could make for a catchy title to somethin’.) I want to apologize for last week. I spent most of it driving, and the other parts sleeping. More or less. Lots of barely consciousness, at least. The first day, we got a freak blizzard (probably not freak-freak, as I wasn’t paying sufficient attention to the weather) over Monarch Pass. After that, it was clear and cold, with just a few flurries through southern Idaho. Wee Dave and Wee-er Dave were fantastic traveling companions, especially for their ages, and Pop Dave was on hand to keep me alert on the drive.
This was, in many ways, just the kind of break I needed. I highly recommend spending a week hiking around the mountains, somewhere. Somewhere without access to social media, that bane of existence and thought. *cough* I fully suspect Not Being At Home was as big a help as Being Elsewhere (subtle distinction, but there.) Having somebody else doing the cooking, and just having more adult eyes on the littles gave me a chance to do little things like run errands and get some writing done, rather than having to choose one or the other.
And I did write. I’ve gotten Scrap Star to the point where my main cadre are about to drop into a simmering cauldron not of their own making, and crystallize a whole mess of trouble out of the stew. Should be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the last few days have been spent with the kiddos. That, in of itself is not unfortunate: my kids are great, and have been doing a better than usual job of getting along together and having fun, despite the noise that tends to trigger a Daddy adrenaline response.
I *am* coming to hate weekends and holidays, at least a little, which I understand is a common response in parents of small children. I don’t dislike them for the time spent with the littles (I’m sensing a pattern developing) but for the time spent away from writing. I really need to write every day, and don’t get to. Getting back into the week is an unacceptable (feeling) slog. I mean, I’m almost certain I’m late, here, getting this post written. Simply because it’s hard to focus after several days without real writing.
Speaking of such, go read Kris Rusch’s post on burnout. It’s a thing to avoid, if at all possible. That’s really only part of Kris’ post, though, and not one upon which I’m entirely qualified to comment. The other half (not exact, as it’s all an indivisible whole) is about how to go about avoiding it, which is writing what you love. And that, I can touch upon. Now, Kris’ experience may not be yours. She and Dean both moved from writing what paid well to writing what they loved.
It’s certainly not mine (I started with writing what I wanted, and I continue doing it, however haltingly). Their income caught up to previous levels with sufficient volume of back catalogue, and mine … well, I haven’t published anything in … shoot: two years, and that was the hardcopy of Unquiet Gods, which has sold nada, as far as I can tell. I’ve had other stuff going on, arguably more important things (I go back and forth, for a lot of very complex reasons).
But. If you aren’t writing what you love to write, you’re headed for burnout. You don’t have to do solely what you want, but you need to be feeding the part of your heart that started writing for the joy of it. For me, I’m finding that means fantasy. Good and evil, powerful wizards and heroic warriors. Dragons. (Maybe dragons.) So after Scrap Star Quarry, I’m going to start something with swords and magic. I don’t know what, and I don’t know how well it’s going to work. I want to write epic fantasy, but the goat-chokers common to the genre aren’t exactly the easiest thing for an indie to devote sufficient time to. I’ll be giving it some thought, and get back to you.
For now, though, are you feeding your soul? Are you writing that which inspires love of writing, or just that which pays well? (Always keeping in mind the goal is to marry the one to the other, etc.) If you’re not, well, read Kris’ post again (I’m going to) and think about planning a lateral jump. Burn bright; not out.