I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections, and the truth of imagination. – Keats
Since the birth of my son, I’ve been prolific. Really, really prolific. My life has also been busy. Really, really busy.
Although I have considered myself a “writer” and “novelist” since I was about twelve or so–hey, you can’t chide a girl for not trying–the title means nothing if nothing is done. In spite of my best efforts, my earliest writing was… um… well, my earliest writing. I’m not ashamed of those short stories, nor embarrassed by them, but they do mark an intriguing part of my life.
Sure, I’m not talking to you as a multi-book deal writer, but as a writer who finally, after writing for the better part of her life, is finally getting it. It takes work. It takes guts. It takes molding, and remolding, casting, hammering, chiseling. It takes sacrifice, and the ability to take a look at a large work and say, “No, this isn’t good enough.” Or at least, that’s how it’s come down for now.
I’m not sure how people get published, or why. I sure as hell know it’s not always on talent. In an ill-fated attempt to read “what’s selling” lately, I’ve been perusing a few books. So far my consensus is that flat characters, hackneyed plots, and cliched magical powers seem to sell these days. One particular author is a “name” that sells, and I realize that–sometimes it doesn’t matter what’s between the covers, because the writer sells it anyway. But certainly, there are plenty of writers out there, some even making their careers out of writing alone, who don’t thing there’s anything wrong with the word ostentatiously.
But back to the point (you’ll excuse the lack of cohesion today, as I’m between three hours of sleep and a cup of coffee). I don’t think writing more, and writing better, was related–on a conscious level, anyway–to Liam’s birth. During my entire pregnancy I wrote nothing. Nothing. It just… well, let’s say I spent most of my time rambling around virtual worlds. Call it hormones, call it what you will, but for nine months I simply concentrated on the most important creation of mine to date. That I didn’t write didn’t bother me, and still doesn’t. Sometimes things take precedent.
Liam is two. So, clearly, he can’t pick up anything I write. And honestly, I wouldn’t want him to read much of it; not intended for kids, and all. But seeing him, watching him grow, experiencing the world through his eyes is a constant well of inspiration. I’m driven on a level that’s likely something along these lines: having a child, helped me see parts of myself more clearly, helped me realize my own purposes. Helped focus me.
And honestly, I don’t think it could have come at a better time. A few friends thought that we started our family too young (tell someone pre-1990 that having a kid at 25 was “young” and they’d laugh you out of the house, but whatever). But now, standing here, I see that it’s all lined up remarkably. I have my miraculous little child, refined skills, and drive as never before.
No, the point isn’t publication, renown, fame, meh, anything like that. Too many writers (and the SF/F genre seems to be replete with them) remind me of actors, and are driven to Prove Everyone Wrong and Make Gazillions of Dollars… which is fine, I mean, I’m the last person to rag on a dream. But there are very few Stephen Kings out there who literally roll in the dough, and most–even some successful writers–still live in modest homes, have to work other jobs, etc.
The point is finding yourself, refining your abilities, and realizing your purpose. It might not be a kid for you; it may be an experience, a vision, a dream, a trip, an adventure. The thing is, we ought to keep our eyes open and ready for it to happen. We can be our own worst enemies by living with our heads and hearts down.
Ah, the journey. So often we think our own adventures are so mundane, but truly, they’re just mini-epics.