Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Writing Life of Digression--Personal and Professional Goals

As a writer, I've discovered that I write about what's going on in my life. 

Subjects include my imaginative life and writing a fantasy novel, my school-teaching life and writing a young adult novel, my emotional life and writing poetry, my family life and writing a memoir, a writing life and writing about writing, or my bicycling life and writing travelogues. These mention a few of my paths of written digression.
  • fantasy = The Stone Dragon and Three Stories
  • teaching school = Love Ya Like a Sister
  • poetry = Bare Ruined Choirs
  • the writing life = I Write: Being and Writing
  • family = A Day Out with Mom
None of the above address my random blogging.

The best advice about succeeding as a writer and especially as a self-published writer is to focus on branding your writing and yourself as an author. He's a fantasy writer. He's a poet. He's a travel writer.  

I think this is good advice, yet I find myself continually breaking it to the detriment of my writing career. Although the two are linked, I find that I value my personal evolution more than the evolution of my writing career. I care more about people than books, and since I really enjoy reading and writing, then my regard for people (including my own development) must truly be great. There's nothing wrong with this.
I'd rather be a good person than a famous writer. I recognize the two are not mutually exclusive, yet as a matter of time and attention, I find myself focusing more on my humanity than on how many books I sell.

A poet once told me that the limitations of time put too much strain on family for a writer. He told me the success of his career was at the loss of his marriage and family. A teacher once made a similar comment to me. "Teaching colleges don't instruct you on how to be a successful teacher and keep your marriage together." I don't think these perspectives are true, or if there is some truth to time limitations and career success, then I choose to not bind myself solely to career success. I guess I can turn this whole conundrum on its head: in order for my writing to be enlightening, then as a writer, I must be enlightened. I'm just trying to find enough light to write by.

Just for the record, though, I've written 1/50th of my next novel, a fantasy prequel to The Stone Dragon. I'm also intending to write short fiction pieces that are set in that same reality; I've written over a half dozen flash fiction rough drafts of these stories. I do have a writing plan that includes marketing. I consider my writing life important.

All that writing stuff, though, is number 2 on my priority list. Number 1 on my list is to be a person of goodness, a person I'd like to know. I guess I want to know my Self more than sell myself. After all, if I'm in a library and say to someone, "You know, I wrote that book," what if the person responds, "And who are you?" That is the big question, and I'd like to have a better answer than, "Well, I've published Ex and Wye and Zee."

I really think I can achieve a unity of writing and being. I'm just working on the scheduling.


  1. If it's not reasonable to judge the value of a person by the size of his bank account, its not reasonable to value what a person does by the size of the person's bank account, either. The success of a person's writing (or of a person's anything) is not reasonably judged by the amount of money the person has received. As we sow, so shall we reap. But we reap after some time has passed. Some of us store up treasure in heaven. Or we reap what we have sown in the past. I always enjoy reading your writing.

  2. I've been working on my schedule, which has changed now that I'm no longer working at school. My wife is newly self-employed this year with her business, so the last few days I've just gone downstairs to her office and written while she works. I just go to work like I have for many years, just for myself now. I'm feeling momentum gathering on the novel. I'm following the pattern of my earlier novels--I rewrite the first chapter many times until I feel the tone and rhythms of language are just right. Then I blaze away on the first draft. Thanks for the comment.