July 7 question – What would make you quit writing?
Wow. The last year or so has been pretty lean for me. I’m not one of those people who jump into a sea of stress and come out with an earth-shaking masterpiece. I’m still working my way back up to speed. Maybe I’m looking for something that feels meaningful after… everything. So, I’m focusing on short stories for a while. Eventually, maybe one of them will take, and I’ll have a novel going again.
I could envision taking some time off and writing just for myself–no editing, no submissions, no marketing, no business end–but I’d still be writing something. I could write rhyming poetry about parrots and farts, and spell everything however I please… or even… not at all. I could stop at the end of the first draft and not worry about the fact that the main character married the handsome prince, and also ran off to Hong Kong with her childhood sweetheart. I could stop logging rejections, and stop worrying about submission turnaround times.
But stop writing? Do people do that?
I know they say they do… but do they really?
I’m not sure I could.
So, where am I, right now?
I’m grappling with that “You have to finish what you write” thing. I have about 55,000 words of short stories since the beginning of the year, and somehow, that amounts to… huh… About a dozen finished stories? Is that right? It depends on what your definition of finished is, but if you mean ready to pack up and send? A dozen might be a little generous.
I’m also grappling with what I want my stories to look like. There are a few on the list that I’m not so sure about. They might belong in a trunk somewhere… or possibly a burn barrel. Or under a pen-name. They’re not dinosaur-walrus bondage porn or anything, but they’re also not what I’d typically do. They’re also a little tricky to categorize. (Especially if I want them to fall into categories where people actually get paid money.)
And other thoughts…
The idea of accountability partners is becoming more appealing. Not critique partners. Not someone who has to take time out of their busy schedule to tell me what they think, or how to spell schedule. Not necessarily even someone who has to read what I send them. Just… In all the weirdness of my drifting mind… someone who fully expects me to email them story parts on a regular basis, and who sends letters saying, Are you hurt? Are you sick? DID YOU DIE IN A FIRE?!! if they don’t hear from me. (And vice-versa, but of course, I’m sure everyone else on the planet is much more responsible than I am.) I think it would be incredibly useful to have someone who expects something.
I’m still working out the details in my mind.
Thoughts? What are the most unusual arrangements you’ve heard of for that kind of thing?