It is just past 9:00 on February 2, 2015.
One year ago the house was quiet. My daughter was asleep. My husband was asleep. I hadn’t written a word of fiction in twenty years. I sat down at my laptop, exactly where I am now, and I typed these words.
They turned into the Settlement series. Three novels and a novella. Approximately 400K words. Ten months from first word to publication of the last.
What a year it has been. I have been consumed by my writing. It is always in the back of my mind. Waking. Sleeping. It’s there, churning away. It takes me to dizzy heights. It drags me to hopeless lows. Hemingway was right when he said there is nothing to writing: you just sit at a typewriter and bleed.
I don’t know what to think about it, on the one-year anniversary. The fact that I am still at it and still obsessed by it belies the many negative things I would like to say about it. The loneliness. The wall of apathy. The tidal flood of shoulds and musn’ts and you-won’t-evers. The burning conviction that I am a damned good writer. The knowledge that my stuff is flawed. The earnest belief that everyone’s stuff is, especially when it’s never seen a beta reader or an editor, the way my stuff hasn’t. My books are unfiltered me. Nobody helps.
I am maudlin tonight. First because it is February, and there is nothing good about February. Second because a persistent head cold has worn me down. Third because my daughter has been at her grandparents’ house, and while the break was welcome, I was supposed to get her today. The weather stopped me. After I made that call, I was miserable. I took the laptop to bed and spent the rest of the day letting strangers tear apart a scene I had been particularly proud of.
Praise is scarce, and comes after long dry spells. There is no way to differentiate the silence of people who don’t like your stuff from the silence of people who do.
Shall I try to say some good things about writing?
When it’s going well, I am on top of the world. I feel good about myself because I write good books. I love my characters. I am keeping my mind busy while I go about the business of keeping a house and raising a small child. I have stopped the pointless shopping and the compulsive crafting. I am getting better at writing every day: going back to fix the flaws in the Settlement series is still, at this point, unthinkable, because I am still substantially better every week than I was the week before. My Amazon sales now pay the gin bill, so at least my two habits are self-supporting.
But today the feedback has been vicious and there has been nothing to offset it. And I am sick, and missing my daughter. And it’s been too long since I had a good cry, anyway. So: here’s to writing. There’s nothing to it.