I have a day job, but I've managed to whittle down my hours so that I only have to go into the office three days a week, those days being Tuesday-Thursday. This gives me an extra long weekend to do,well, things related to writing. And I actually have enough of those things to fill that long weekend, which is nice.
But yesterday was an office day, so not exactly the type of day that would scream "feeling like a writer."
It started off when I received a few e-mails from people who had read my book. Some of them are related to me, so their praise was taken with a grain of salt. But one was from someone who did not share any part of my family tree, and the review she sent was absolutely glowing. She managed to hit on all the things I really worried about with my book and made me feel like I actually accomplished what I set out to do.
Not long after that, I confirmed a book signing in my hometown. I have to think that's a milestone for pretty much any writer.
Later, I came across the latest column from writer Jason Aaron over at Comic Book Resources. He mentioned how the hardest part of writing was coming up with the ideas, while the actual sitting down and typing things up was much easier:
"The actual act of putting pen to paper is the fun part. It's all the mental gymnastics you have to go through to get to that point that's the real work."
Since I follow Mr. Aaron's Twitter, I sent him a little message, saying that perhaps that relationship is different depending upon the format you're working in. I can see how the act of putting pen to paper for a comic book script would be a blast, because the big beats are already in your head. It doesn't matter what your panel description is, because only a handful of people are ever going to read it (assuming it's not so bad that your artist can't figure it out).
Prose, I suggested, is a different thing all together. I labor over every single sentence to the point of inaction. Ideas are easy for me. I have too many of them, quite honestly. If I could spend half as much time writing as I do thinking about writing I'd have written dozens of books by now.
I had a moment, then, after sending my Tweets, after making a comment to a writer about writing, when I got a little giddy. My comments came from my own experience as a writer, and now I had an actual book to point to as an example. I think I used some variation of "when I wrote my first book..." Because I did. I wrote a book (I've written a few). And next week it's being published.
I felt like a writer.
Later that day, I would have another moment involving my writing. It wasn't necessarily a positive moment, but it was a telling one. Without going into specifics, it involved making decisions about my future based upon my need to be able to write. It came up again this morning and the word "sacrifice" was thrown out.
I have never defined myself as a writer. In fact, I spent years keeping that information to myself. In college, it was impossible to hide, but after I graduated I don't think I really told anyone. I would be hard pressed to think of anyone in Los Angeles who knew I was a writer unless they dated me, and even then I only let them know so much.
I've never really thought about the sacrifices I've made to do this.
There are the obvious things, of course, like my complete lack of anything resembling a career, somewhat troubling given my advanced age. It would be easy to point to the carpal tunnel syndrome in both of my wrists as the physical manifestation of how writing has done me wrong, but I would suggest that my overall fragility has the same root cause. You can only spend so much time indoors before you turn into the Bubble Boy.
I would go so far as to say that I've sacrificed more than one relationship to the alter of writing.
The list could go on for a while, particularly if I start talking about my various personality quirks, mental eccentricities, emotional extremes, or social difficulties. Granted, these...issues...probably existed before I let writing pull me under, but I'm sure they were exacerbated by it.
I kind of find myself in a position where I am defined by my writing, just as I'm realizing that everyone I know has labeled me as such for quite some time. And I'm not complaining -- honestly, it still freaks me out to even use that word in connection with my name. In a lot of ways, I feel like I still haven't earned it (contrary to yesterday's experiences).
But I've suddenly realized how it's shaped my entire life, and how it still does. And, yes, any decisions about my future will be influenced by my writing. I don't have a choice; it's what I do and who I am.
Admitting that is weird, like I'm an alcoholic giving myself over to a higher power.
I suppose that's just about right.