Looming events require me to think a lot about myself lately. I may be called upon to, if not justify myself professionally, at least explain. That’s left me contemplating where I’ve been and where I want to go, particularly in terms of writing.
Despite how I might feel about this personally, I’m not going to be put on trial. I’m merely preparing to spend time with other writers, who may be curious about where, how and/or why I feel I fit in with the group. Even if they don’t ask these questions, I’m asking them of myself. Some of the answers surprise me.
Primarily, I ask myself if I’m worthy of joining the group. I am not one to contemplate or discuss “The Writing Life” normally. I don’t consciously make a job out of it, setting aside specific time to focus on writing. My life eschews such structure in all things! If I refuse to tightly schedule the things I don’t want to do, why would I create a regimen for doing what I enjoy?
The answer to that question seems rather obvious to me: if I were seriously committed to making my living by writing, if I set the goal of producing a new book periodically, I would discipline myself. Instead, the two books I have published putter along, reaching out now and then to a small audience, both likely and unlikely.
The most recent story of a local purchase of Shy Ghosts Dancing: Dark Tales from Southeast Alaska tickles me! The director of a swanky New York dance troupe bought it because the title mentions dancing. “Will I like this?” she asked the seller. Had I been there, I would have predicted: “No”. She implied in a local media interview that she didn’t expect Alaskan audiences to understand her troupe’s art. By the same token, I’ve met very few urbanites who appreciate my stories of life in Alaska. Having said that, some of the most faithful readers of this blog live in New York city, and I’m as grateful for their patronage as I am mystified by it!
There’s at least one more book in the offing, but it’s in the far offing, because I’m cowriting it with Michelle, who never has time to write. I have lots of other half finished projects, with no real passion for finishing them. None of this seems to qualify me for joining the company of writers.
But then, does that matter? After all, my entire lifestyle “fails” to fulfill the American ideal of success. Why wouldn’t my aspirations fail to pass muster as well?
And yet, I’m satisfied. Sure, I’d love to be a best selling author. I’d be okay with an agent begging me to write another book. But I don’t seem to need that, or I’d work harder toward it, wouldn’t I? Thank goodness I don’t. I doubt my life would be improved by such frustration and heartache.
And, to my surprise, the books sell better than I assume. I had to place another order for hard copies of Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm today, just to keep enough inventory for one of the local sellers. That’s not bad, really.
So, what’s my story? I still don’t know for sure. But, like most tales, it has helped me to try to explain it to you here. Thanks, as always, for listening! Likely, I’ll have it mostly figured out in time to tell, if called upon. Hopefully, though, I’ll be able to just keep my mouth shut, to listen and learn. That’s always been my best strategy, when I can adhere to it.