Thursday, November 20, 2014
It's that time of year again, when the doldrums hit and everything feels more than a little bit pointless. Most of my writer friends are swept up in the furor that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but this year I can't even get inspired by that. I am about 18,000 words into a new novel, and it is by far the best thing I've ever written. I, however, am not inspired to keep going. You see, my work doesn't fit into the neat little boxes everyone loves to tick - it isn't romance, I don't believe in happily ever after. It isn't really erotica, although it titillates, that isn't the bulk of the work by any means. Literary writers shun me, because there is an intense sexual component. I wish I could turn back time to the days before publication, when the writing was all there was. Once you push that button, though, expectations change - both yours and those of the people around you.
My expectations are still simple, I want people to read what I write and, hopefully, have it move them. Although I would adore it if everyone loved my work, having them hate it is almost as satisfying, because at least I moved them in some way. But in order to do that people have to read, and gaining enough visibility to even register on anyone's radar is nearly impossible in the flood of books coming to market every single day.
Even reading, which has been my life long escape from the harsh light of reality, isn't giving me any joy. Either I love what I'm reading (and therefore despair that I will ever write anything worthwhile) or I find it to be merely meh (and in some cases awful) and then beat myself up because that dreck can sell and I can't move a single unit.
This has been a year fraught with challenges. My dear friend and alpha reader passed away at far too young an age. My beloved furry companion Kate also crossed over the rainbow bridge at the ripe old age of 23, and even though three new little bundles of fur and purrs have joined our household, I still miss her quiet presence. My son is all grown up and in college, and his lovely girlfriend has taken my place in his life - as is right and expected, but still tough to cut those ties. I've had to split my time between my home and family and my elderly father on the other side of the country - and felt all along that no one was getting what they needed from me. I've been scattered and splattered and altogether useless in any way that really matters.
And now come the holidays. Christmas isn't my celebration, I'm a Buddhist, after all. But the non-stop forced cheer and in your face and down your throat consumerism leave even the most detached aching to run away and bury our heads in the sand. Buy buy buy give give give. For those of us on the edge, both financially and emotionally, it is the death knell to any possible joy you can muster in these cold dark months.
So, my friends, I ask you a favor. It's an easy one, don't worry. Be kind this holiday season - to yourself and to those you come in contact with. If you don't like what someone has to say, just ignore it. Smile at strangers. Cut yourself and others some slack. If we all work together, perhaps we can light the darkness of these winter months just a little tiny bit.