Sunday, June 8, 2014

Do I Really Want To Be A Writer?

On the eve of our live-blogging-a-story event, I'm reminded of a conversation that Rish and I had a while back.  He has been working on publishing his stories on Smashwords and Amazon, but he was a little despondent about his lack of success and wondering if it was a completely fruitless exercise.  I went on Dean Wesley Smith's blog and found his post about making a living publishing only short fiction.  Rish read it, and scoffed at the things that DWS had to say as per usual, but still some things jumped out.  Rish spoke about some particularly harsh words that Smith had for people like me:
Please don’t give me your pitiful excuses about having to research or think about your story or build character worksheets or rewrite your story a dozen times to make your story dull and boring and just like everyone else’s story. And please don’t talk to me about how your day job is 60 hours. I have heard all the excuses and am not interested in why you can’t dig out one hour a day average out of your life. If you can’t do that much, stop claiming you want to be a writer. At least to me. Thanks!
Hearing these words made me stop and think.  Do I really want to be a writer?  I keep claiming that I do, but I can't even carve out one measly hour to spend on it each day.  Is this really my dream?  Or is it  just B.S. that I spout because it sounds good on a show?

What Smith says is that if it's really something somebody means to do; not just wants to do, but means to do; then that person will do what it takes to do it.  Those that don't will never achieve it, and should cut the shit and admit it.  I think it's time to do this thing.  Tomorrow, I'll start that whole live blogging deal, but when I finish, I'm not finished.  I gotta keep writing.

I'm going to start wandering off on what might seem like a tangent, and when I finish, I guess we'll see if it really was.  On Facebook last week, I found out that Jay Lake died.  I was never a big fan of Jay Lake, sometimes his stories appealed to me other times they didn't, but I was aware of him, and I have even quoted, more than once, a thing that he said about what he had done to become a writer.

He once said on his blog (I think) that he had given up being a consumer.  He figured that every minute being a consumer was a minute not being used to be a producer.  He had decided to be a producer of fiction content instead of a consumer.  So, he didn't watch TV.  He didn't watch movies.  He used his time to work on his fiction.  I'm guessing that he did still read books, because that seems like an important part of being a producer of fiction, but beyond that, he was a producer.

Maybe he made that decision because he had cancer, and was faced with the idea that he only had a very finite number of minutes left in his life.  When it comes down to it, we all only have a finite number of minutes remaining, but most of us don't have something like a disease eating us away from the inside to continually remind us of the fact.  Most of us don't "Live like we were dying," as the old country song says, because we don't realize that we are dying, we are all dying, sooner or later.

Also, on Facebook, I saw that Eugie Foster is continuing her battle with cancer as well.  I know even less about Eugie Foster than I do about Jay Lake.  I have enjoyed her stories when I've read them or heard them on Escape Pod, Podcastle and the like.  I hope she is able to conquer her cancer, and live on long and happy.  I bet, each time she gets an idea for a story, she has a certain urge to write that can be traced back to that onus over her head.  The fact that she understands much better than most how life is finite and short.

Now, coming around for the tangent to intersect back with the main line.  I wrote a post a few weeks back about having gone to a physical, and discovering that I had a condition called pitting edema.  This is a symptom that most commonly indicates that the person who has it has some sort of heart disease going on.  It's not always heart disease.  It could be liver or kidney related too.  But it's probably not just nothing.

I saw my doctor, who prescribed me some pills and told me I should see a cardiologist.  I saw a cardiologist, who told me I needed to get a test and some lab work.  Tomorrow, I go first thing in the morning for that test and lab work.  It's been something like a month since I found out there was an issue, and I may finally be getting an idea of just what the issue is.

But, whatever the issue is, it reminds me that life is finite and short.  Who knows how many minutes, weeks, months or years I have left in my life?  I don't, and neither does anyone else.  But I do know that there's only so many of them.  When the doctor asked me if I had a history of heart disease in my family, I told him about my grandfather who died of a heart attack at 41 years of age.  Only a year and a half older than I am now.  It could be very short indeed.

I've said that writing is a cool occupation, because unlike most other occupations, it doesn't really matter when you start it.  It's not like acting, where if you don't start young, you'll not likely be anything but a character actor.  It's not like sports, where if you don't start young, your body will be unable to withstand the rigors of the job.  You could be as old as you want when you start writing.  As long as you don't have early onset Alzheimer's, then you should be fine.

But if you wait too long, you just might be dead.

Man, this has turned out to be a really morbid bit of blogging.  But I can't help it.  It's where my mind is right now.  Maybe after the test has gone through, I'll have news that will make me less prone to dwell on the worst.  Or maybe not.  We'll see.

But for now, I'm going to take this whole thing, and make it as positive as I can.  I'm going to spend a little more time with my kids and my wife each day.  I'm going to hug them a little tighter and closer.  I'm going to treasure every moment that I have with them.

And, on a different but related note, I'm going to write.

1 comment:

  1. Shoot, I sort of wish I had started reading your blog before today. Maybe we could've done an episode about this. I did feel bad when I found out Jay Lake was dying when he made his "I'm no longer a consumer" announcement, because it puts everything in an understandably different light.

    My own grandfather died in his nineties. It would be a real shame if I outlived you, though.