Some of you may remember that I started out the month of November in fine form. I was posting lore articles on the daily, or making up the total word count on the next day when I didn’t. For a little while, I always had something more to offer.
And then, at least for this blog’s purposes, I just stopped. What happened?
It’s difficult drafting a single phrase to encapsulate my answer, but the salient points run few. The simplest is that because both my jobs involve considerable writing, I burned out early on. I’d like to say the upcoming statement was fed by this, but the truth is that it’s been simmering in my mind ever since I was handed an especially bitter pill in the same class which spawned this blog’s larval form.
This was directly before a year-long lapse for which algorithms may have permanently condemned it to obscurity. I was informed that, on average, writers make $200 on their writing over the entire course of their lives.
That idea bothered me little in itself. But I pride myself–especially when it’s self-destructive–on facing harsh realities. I’ve devoted more than enough words in the past to explaining why the odds are so long against my work ever becoming even modestly successful. Acknowledging the evidence is one thing: emotionally absorbing it makes by far the harder battle. I finished doing this on the 15th, and I’m still building myself back up in the aftermath.
For what it’s worth, the preview of my first book did well with readers–by this blog’s standards. After four years of off-and-on posting, after quitting and coming back multiple times, those standards aren’t particularly high. And I acknowledge that I’ve shot myself in the foot more than once by announcing that I was shutting this place down, but… am I not allowed those moments of despair? Every other writer gets to have them.
That said, blaming the silent periods is but grasping at straws–and especially frail ones at that. The truth of writing, as with all arts, is that most of us never achieve public acclaim. Most of us hear over and over from friends and family how skilled they think we are, yet see not a moment’s engagement with the stories that pull us forward.
This past month I accepted that I’m one of that majority. There have been other blows on my spine, of course–a few other hopes that might’ve been, yet ended before they fully sparked. The first remains most devastating. I possess no English words which portray the absolute, immutable crushing it brings to accept within yourself, “I’ll never be recognized. I’ll never amount to anything. None of my books will ever be published,” at the youngish age of 26.
How do you write hopelessly? How do you sit down at the computer and start spinning out stories with the absolute conviction that they’ll never reach a single reader?
Well, I’m not sure how your instructor taught this, but I generally start with the fingers of my left hand on the A, S, D, and F keys, and my right on the J, K, L, and ;/: keys.
Now you start typing whatever it was you wanted to type. Put the need for hope out of your head–it was never actually a need, only a fading warmth whose rekindling stole more energy than it created. If you want an emotional core, may I suggest vengeance? Or better yet:
Write with the soul of a warrior, alone on the last hill in creation, knowing that no salvation is coming no matter how many foes they cleave–and reveling in it.