More than once in the past two months, I’ve asked myself in the most unofficial and discreet way I could, if all of this effort I put into writing is anything but a waste of time.
This somewhat dark point of view came from mostly good places. First of all, I had a great professional opportunity present itself. Career-wise it would have been a lateral move, but one that could have brought me some new and thrilling experiences. In the end I decided not to pursue it; after having a lot of long talks with many trusted people and thinking things over, I knew it wasn’t right for me.
At about the same time all of this was just beginning, I had what felt like legitimate reasons to get excited about possibly having something happen with a manuscript on submission. This could have meant there would be a tiny overlapping space in the Venn diagram between Professional Life and Writing Life, and I began to wonder if that was something to consider as I began looking into this opportunity.
Those seemingly legitimate reasons to become excited about my submission soon revealed themselves to be imaginary. The bad news here was that even though I had resisted letting my hopes build up before anything concrete happened, I had started hoping, and it was a pretty hard punch in the gut when I realized nothing was there. The good news? I didn’t let my hope get any more out of control than it did. That might seem pessimistic, to look at pursing a dream as a writer as something that requires you temper you hope, but when I stepped away and realized I was letting that hope influence decisions about the established career I have, I knew I had let it go too far.
There was nothing I could do to advance that hope, so I decided to stop and let it die off, at least that thread of it. I stopped writing so I could center myself again after taking what had felt like a pretty solid disappointment. Luckily I have a career that not only allows for but requires a great deal of creativity, so I redirected that energy into my work, which led to the beginning of some new ideas that are already paying off in dividends.
It makes me wonder though, if creativity is as much a finite resource as it is a need. I know if I’m not doing something creative for too long, I become mentally distracted and agitated. When this happens, making the time to sit down and work on a story can be soothing and centering. However, the same is true for anything else creative I produce, and if I put so much effort into finding new approaches to bring to my work, I don’t feel the need, or the itch, or whatever you want to call it — the drive that makes writing so necessary for many of us.
I’ve got some time off from work over the holidays, and I’m not sure what direction I’m going follow when that drive catches up to me again. I’ve got story ideas in the vault I want to pursue, half-finished drafts to continue, and finished manuscripts needing revision, not to mention all the new ideas constantly coming to life. But knowing I’ve made the career choice that I did, I’m also feeling a pull toward the direction I chose. I know I’ll wake up on the morning after Christmas with time on my hands, and I’m still not sure what I’ll want to do with it.
I guess in the end it’s a lucky problem to have, to have tangible things I can work on that will produce immediate results, and a way to feed the creativity for the time being without letting the hopes I have about writing fade away. The writing will always be there when the stories demand the time for it.