Ten days ago I was bit by a whole lot of inspiration. Normally, when inspiration comes crashing in on me, I can understand where it comes from. I may be on a romantic weekend getaway; or hiking in the mountains, taking in spectacular views of forest, wildlife or a sparkling lake; or I’m in a place rich in history that it can’t help but affect me (Alcatraz, The Winchester Mystery House, and The Stanley Hotel come to mind as recent examples). But this last time, there wasn’t any obvious rhyme or reason for it. I wasn’t having some new experience, or somewhere inspirational, where natural beauty or a compelling history did the trick – I was just on a visit to Florida. A place I have been many times. And when it first struck, it was late, and I wasn’t outside or having some kind of new experience. But hey, why fight a good thing?
And since it hit, I have felt a much stronger compulsion than I usually feel to write. And not just write, but write with a reason. To submit. To get published. To get my name out there, and finally have my voice and my words heard by other people. I have never submitted anything to any sort of publication. Sometimes I have my reasons, sometimes life is just too crazy, and sometimes I hold myself back – but I have never really felt that need that something had to happen now (when it came to being published). And now that seems to have changed.
Publication is not my motive or reason to write, but the goal or endgame that I want my writing to work towards. Before I knew it several books or works were screaming for my attention. Twenty fiction manuscripts, seventeen of which were thought out and mapped out in some sort of detail (and some of which have already been started) and three more abstract, but solid core ideas, were saying, “Write me. Write me now!” While four memoir or essay collection manuscripts (all solid and outlined) were doing the same thing. Three more personal essays (again some of which have been started) were also demanding priority as well as a poetry collection that I have started (and I have at least half of the poems finished, though not necessarily polished).
Everything in me was urging myself to the page. “Get to work, and for once work for something.” I don’t believe a writer should write just to appeal to other people. If I was just interested in money I would write certain things for certain publications under a pseudonym. But I have been in the other camp, and I have always written for myself. Because I felt compelled to tell a story, because I needed to write whatever it was I was writing. And I feel that is still important; I also feel like that should be how I begin. That should be my reason to work on whatever I am working on, but I need to strike a balance between writing for myself and writing for others. Writing the stories I feel I have to tell, but making them so that other people will want to read them. In truth, I haven’t cared much about the “other people” aspect – just about being as authentic as possible, in whatever I write.
For me writing is being naked, exposed, and completely vulnerable. A person can understand more of my truth in a single written statement (even if it’s fiction) than they will from an entire conversation with me at length. It is so incredibly personal it can be difficult not to get caught up in all of that. But I want this year to be different. I want to write and for once not have something that is just for my eyes only (or my husband’s). I want people to read and react to my stories and my words. I want to make people think, maybe make them angry, joyful – I want to move them in some way.
All I have ever wanted to do is to be a full-time author/writer. To make enough money writing, to suit my needs and support myself, so I’m not fill-in-the-blank job by day and writer by night. (Though teaching a creative writing course, running writing workshops, working as an advice columnist and other jobs that I find as “directly related to” would make me just as happy I think.)
The strongest genre calling me to it right now is fiction. Fiction was the first medium I ever used, and it is what I focused on in graduate school – what I feel the most comfortable with. And yet, the genre I have barely touched in so long, it almost feels as if I have forgotten how. (Though poetry is by far the most rusty and foreign genre to me today.) No matter what the genre, however, I am going to write something that matters, and I am going to work on my list of ideas, and hopefully even finish one or two (at least the first drafts!) and I am going to submit stories and essays and anything I feel is ready, while working on my memoir from last year and another new manuscript perhaps.
So I need to ready myself for more rejection than I may ever be able to handle. And I need to figure out what pieces are ready to submit, and where to submit them, and how to even figure any of this out. And wow – talk about daunting. But I am going to do it. If I have to go through 1,000 no’s to hear a single yes, then let’s get those no’s started. I haven’t felt this determined to get my work “out there” in a very long time, actually quite possibly ever. But now I’m ready. I’m inspired, enthused, determined and resolved. I am going to write something worthy of other people reading, and I am going to be published by the end of 2015!