Characters have a great deal to teach us.
A thought struck me this morning as I considered a character, a genderless writer whose once often-professed passion was writing.
The character-writer’s productivity used to bear that out. Now, though, not so much. At first, s/he was turning out new work at an alarming pace.
Then s/he listened to some outside comments and decided to pull down and rework some of the stories s/he’d published. S/he did that while continuing to turn out new stories, albeit a lot fewer new stories.
Understand, the character-writer never said s/he no longer has a passion for storytelling.
But over time his/her actions belied that as s/he eventually turned all efforts toward revising things already written. As a result, over time, writing new stories ground to a near-halt.
Eventually that character-writer surrendered to the conscious, critical mind to the point that s/he hasn’t even re-released the stories that were previously published and that s/he took down to “improve” them.
Personally, as a writer, I can’t imagine a more miserable existence.
The thought that occurred was this: Writing part-time beats writing no-time until it doesn’t. And actually, that applies across the board.
I had to think about that awhile. I believe it means that doing something we profess to love only part-time because we give other things a greater priority is a kind of slow death, a slow but steady march toward not doing what we profess to love at all.
Sadly, I’ve seen that time and again among some really good writers just in the short time I’ve been writing full time (5 years). In that time, I’ve seen some great writers whose works I admired fire up like a Roman Candle. And later, fizzle out and die away to obscurity.
Maybe their priorities simply shifted and what they truly love doing (vs. what they profess to love doing) shifted along with them. So naturally, they aren’t writing as often or as much as they say they want to. Or at all. Of course, that’s fine too.
I learned a long time ago, what doesn’t directly affect my own life span, productivity or income doesn’t matter. (I need to remember that more often.) Still, it makes me a little sad.
As to setting priorities, Ray Bradbury said it best: “I love to write. It’s all I do.”
Of course, he did other things too, but writing was the One Big Thing to which he always returned. That bore out his statement and his passion.
Time is our most valuable asset. And like our priorities, it continues until one day it just doesn’t anymore. I hope you’re spending yours doing exactly what you want to do.
For me personally it’s all very cut and dried. Indecision expressed as warring passions/priorities is the worst possible waste of time.
So for me, there will never be a long, drawn-out decline from writing with passion to writing every now and then to fading into obscurity.
Like ol’ Forest Gump with his running, I’ll keep writing until I figure I’ve written enough, and then I’ll stop. Period.
May that event occur a long way down the road. And frankly, I hope it coincides perfectly with when Time itself runs out.
‘Til next time, keep writing!
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