The Writer's Life
On March 2, 2018, I made coffee, read a few pages from writers I admire, then started working on my first novel.
Today, January, 22, 2020, I made coffee, read a few pages from writers I admire, then picked up where I'd left off on my third novel.
In between was a book-deal, flying to New York to visit my agent, working with editors, cover designers, a publicist, and marketing folks. When the book comes out (June 16) I'll get good reviews and bad reviews. I'll sell some books, but probably not enough to move the needle (so goes the industry I'm a part of). I'll do interviews, speak on panels, attend conferences. Then, just like that, the book will be old news.
Sure, I'll publish more books (per my contract, I'll have at least two more). And maybe they'll do well, and maybe they won't. Maybe I'll win awards, be on best-seller lists, and have my novels turned into movies. Or, maybe the books won't sell, the awards won't be there, and Hollywood won't ever come calling (percentages say this is the more likely outcome).
But either way, I'll make coffee, read a few pages from writers I admire, then keep writing. Because living the writer's life is not about the variables. It's not about the unknowns. Sure, you can hope for success, but you can't count on it, and you damn sure shouldn't depend on it to maintain your passion for the craft. Writing is a solitary endeavor, a lonely path. Embrace that. Embrace it and exalt it and make it the "why" of everything you do.
You have to love the process. You have to love the chair. You have to miss the chair, when you're not in it. You have to be excited-- no matter how tired you are, or how much the outside world has taken from you this day, or this week, or this life-- about sitting down and working on your craft. That's the writer's life. Everything else is a trap. Win an award? Here, have an inflated ego that won't help your writing. Sales numbers down? Here, have a kick in the gut that won't help your writing. Can't find an agent? Well, you must be a terrible writer. Spoke on a panel at a conference? Wow, you're the greatest author of our time. None of it's true, none of it matters. What matters is you, the chair, and the work.
Do the work, love your craft, and it won't matter if you're reading in front of an auditorium full of people or at an open-mic that nobody showed up for-- you'll be living the writer's life.