2016-09-18

Curse or Gift

Update
Yesterday was a great writing day. Even though I had to stop and do some research, I managed to surpass 3,000 words. This morning, I hope to continue that pace. Peacekeeper Pathogen now stands at 30,355 words. I normally set my target at around 95,000 words. Eighty-thousand is my normal minimum.

Last week, I received an odd email from a stranger asking me to call. She gave me her home phone number. My wife is very good at finding information on people using the internet and she looked this person up. She lives not far from me and is in her 80s. When I called, I learned that she had wanted to attend the self-published writers panel that was held at a local library several months ago but could not get out of the house (wheelchair bound). She called the library and they graceously sent her the papers I had passed out. After reading them sent me the email. Apparently, she has a small writers group that meets at her house every 3 months and she invited me to come talk to them. She was concerned though about how much I might charge. Now why would I do that? I told her there was no charge. She was delighted.

I enjoy talking to people about my self-publishing experience and helping others do the same is part of the joy of writing. Charging for it--especially since it's local--just does not seem fair. If I did, I would hope someone would accuse me of being a hypocrite because one of my biggest pet peeves is greed.

Curse or Gift
Being able to share my experience, knowing that I can actually write a book, hearing people tell me how much they enjoy my stories, and interfacing with other writers is part of the gift of being a writer. It is such a wonderful experience. But, having the gift of being a writer can also be a curse.

Writers must write--that's all there is to it. If you're a writer and you take a break from writing you know what I mean. The itch to put words together and form a story is too strong to ignore. But that's not the true nature of the curse. The curse is that writing can become all consuming. It starts with you no longer watching television or surfing the internet. You withdraw from society and lock yourself away in a quiet room so you can write. You even stop reading so you can have more writing time. You carry a pad of paper around so you can add another paragraph while you're in line at the grocery store. Some writers feel the need to be with other writers, like wolves needing a pack. They spend money going to conferences and conventions. But the curse follows them there as well. Instead of hanging out with writers, they keep themselves locked away in their hotel room with their fingers banging away on the keyboard.

If it gets really bad, spouses will leave you and you won't notice. Your weight will drop until you are but a ghost of your former self. You'll snarl at people if they try to disturb you. Your pets will go hungry and you'll skip sleep. People will avoid you when you do venture out into the realm of the non-writers. You'll start to hoard pens and paper because of the fear that you might not have enough. In the final stages of this curse--you'll die at your desk but your decaying corpse will continue writing, oblivious to the fact that there's a bright light calling you. Well -- maybe not that bad.

Writing is a gift. Nurture it. Learn everything you can about the craft. Hone your skills and gratefully accept the advice of more experienced writers. But don't let it become an obsession. Balance your writing with the rest of your life. You only have one life to live, so enjoy it while you can and do the things that will cause others to remember you with fondness in their hearts long after you've gone on to the big writing conference in the sky.

So now, while my wife is sleeping and my cats are watching the birds outside, I will continue adding words to my next novel. When the cats need feeding and after my wife wakes up, the writing gets put away.