In works of narrative fiction, transitions might have symbolic markers. Probably not so much in real life. So, after being very busy for several months, I’m trying not to ascribe any special meaning to waking up this week with a burst blood vessel in my eye.
My writing life has really taken a backseat lately, which is a bummer. I’ve been active in submitting completed stories, and I’ve written some new stuff so I meet the baseline requirement to keep showing up at my writing group, but I haven’t revised anything at all, really. And I’m not working on any of the things that I think are probably the things I have the most tangled and angsty motivations to work on. Those are the things that I know will draw me into the real writing places, and I know without even thinking about it that I’m not able to be there now.
I feel like I’ve made some progress on the short story submission front. Most of my rejections lately have been encouraging. Lots of “this is good but I don’t want it.” An editor doesn’t have to say anything at all, so if they do, I take it as encouragement. Very mild encouragement, but still. I guess I feel like maybe I’m at least writing at a level of clarity that an editor has a choice to make. That isn’t nothing.
But the difference between not-nothing and something is significant. I’ve been thinking about that lately. The universality of narrative, and the way that resonates with literally everyone, everywhere — be it in reading the difficult reading, or in watching the easiest of easy — means that everyone understands the shape and purpose of these things. It’s the framework with which we understand our lives.
To go from that awareness to being able to mimic and deliver something story-shaped is just a matter of work and practice and discipline. It just takes doing.
To be inventive and to hold a point of view, to create and innovate, or to be critical in new and interesting ways… That probably takes being.
So I wonder how much a person that is so busy being something else — so busy and focused elsewhere that they might even believe that their body is physically responding to the pressure of all of those things… How much can that person be a writer?
A hobby, or a craft, is something that a person can pick up and put down whenever they want. They might even become very good at it. But it is by definition something other than their mastery. A hobbyist isn’t an artist. Where is that line within us?