The Here and Now

It took me years to call myself a writer. For a long time, I thought in order to call myself a writer, I’d have to be making a living at writing; that many people had to know I exist. This is nowhere near the current case for me, and who’s to say if it ever will be? What’s on my mind in this moment is that twice, in the last month, I’ve read posts tap-dancing around the question of “When does a writer quit?” Quit because of what? I asked myself. The question sounded to me like a temper tantrum, like a challenge to the Gods to take our toys and go home should we not receive the gifts we expected in our timeframe. Who are writers trying to appeal to, and further, why? I think writers should ask themselves these questions so they don’t get frustrated, should it come down to the meager fruits of their labor. I use these questions as a reality check every so often, because I recall years ago thinking all I wanted was to be in the game; have a book available in the world; that it would be enough. And in this moment of blog post confession, I can honestly say having two books out in the world is enough, and what happens from here is not my business. Except that it is a business. I have to acknowledge that, having chosen the traditionally published route, with contracted books is responsibility. I have to do my part in joining the grid of how the game is played by engaging in social media, looking for public appearance opportunities and basically being creative in shouting from the rooftops that my books are out in the competitive field. These things are a given when a writer aligns with people who have a vested interest, and for me it comes down to upholding my end of the bargain. But recently, I’ve had an epiphany: enlightenment descended with the awareness that I truly love the writing lifestyle, even though by many people’s standards, I’m experiencing downtime. My second novel was released two years ago, and my third won’t be out for more than a year. There’s a good reason for this, which I’ll get to in another post, but I’ve asked myself a few times if I shot myself in the foot, with regard to momentum. I’ve seen a few authors I admire disappear for years then emerge apologetically for creating the gap. But the thing is I’m not a prominent enough writer for anyone to miss me, and I’m thinking my recent epiphany answers the question some writers ask of when to quit. My personal answer is never, and here’s why:  I love the writer’s lifestyle, and the proof is I’m spending my alleged downtime writing another book. Plainly and simply, writing is what I love to do. I’m also having a blast sharing what I’ve learned over the past few years with other writers. It’s a pay-it-forward- labor- of -love for me to help new authors in any way I can. And I’m just as enthusiastic over books my fellow authors are getting out in the world as I ever was for my own work. I love to watch some of the friends I’ve made through writing prosper, and it is my honor to share their work on all the social media outlets I established for my own books. Frankly, the writing lifestyle is my idea of fun, and I love everything about the arena. There are fascinating, talented authors out there generating the kind of work that inspires me. There are also authors now long deceased who set the bar for the rest of us, and the luxury of reading their work gives me something to aim for as I study what and how they write.

So it is the lifestyle that writing affords that is the gift to me. Many times on this blog I’ve written that the thing about writing is there is no there to get to. I’d like to go deeper with the message and offer another consideration: the “there” to get to with writing is the here and now. It is enough to love it, and if this is case, then why ever quit?

Claire Fullerton is the author of Contemporary Fiction Dancing to an Irish Reel, and paranormal mystery, A Portal in Time.

6 thoughts on “The Here and Now

  1. Claire, I feel fortunate that this is the first post I read upon opening my computer today. (Don’t have a smart phone, not habitually connected to digital world.) In the back of my head I’ve always agreed with your view, but it took reading this for me to think about it. You are right – I write because I can’t not write, something I’ve said and written more than once. I write when I’m not writing, ideas always brewing in my head that will eventually find space on a page. But you said it better and more thoughtfully.

    I’ve also been following folks who I try to encourage in their writing, only to find they need more incentive the next day, and the day following. There is an end to the amount of cheer leading I can do. Maybe that’s the time to stop writing – when you can’t find the joy for yourself and no one else can convince you either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, Sharon, and have suspected for a while now that you and I speak the same language. It’s hard to articulate, but then again, this is what the two of us do. It’s the free-floating, from the mind’s soul at the very core of us that compels us to write. I say, who could possibly ever give this up, if it’s essentially who we are? You’ve heard the adage about showing up, doing the work, and turning it over ( to a higher power, as it were.) This is what I keep coming back to. Know what I mean?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous post Claire. This is so true, traditionally published or indie, I think we get so engrossed in our passion for writing we don’t anticipate ‘the business end’ of things which in fact eats up much of our time. But we are writers and we love what we do or we couldn’t do it. And suddenly, we find ourselves ‘in it for life’. I know I did. I’ve said to my friends, I can never retire. Besides the passion that drives me as a writer, who else is going to babysit my business? Writing a few books and leaving them collecting dust on virtual bookshelves is like having a brick and mortar store and leaving the store unattended with the door wide open. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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