This is my last blog post before I enter the wilds of NaNoWriMo and beyond. It’s also always a good time to have a heart-to-heart with myself, to remind this sometimes insecure writer why I write. During NaNo I’ll still be right here each Thursday. Need a buddy during NaNo? I’m Mystic Silver 759 there.
I do not dream of work, nor do I dream words or hours. What keeps me up at night and distracts me through the day is story. It can be easy to forget that fact in a world that treasures numbers. Being a determined, fast drafter, it’s easy to draw numerical attention because, yes, I draft a lot of words. I’m proud of that, but it’s story that has my heart.
Words, and hours spent editing/revising, are great motivators and milestones. I use them, too, for self-accountability. I read blog posts on writing for an hour every morning. Some quick, rough math tells me I’ve spent over 90 days reading posts since 2015. It’s been time well spent, but like books and other learning, it’s a tool.
This blog, the novels … the goal is always story. Not just any story. My story. All my stories. My characters, my plots, my settings. All of it. It’s terrifyingly easy to lose track of why I’m doing what I do.
Likewise, it’s easy to forget why I started. Yes, there’s the drive, the need to share tales, to extract all the ideas tumbling around in my brain that leave room for little else unless I extract them. Not that removing them keeps more from forming. I’ll never, ever complain about that.
The spark, though, in the beginning, was the simple adage that most writers have seen somewhere in one form or another. If you don’t see the book you want to read on the shelf, then you must write it. I took that to heart, held it with both hands, and knew the truth. That was my path and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
I don’t write to follow trends. That would violate the above adage, shifting the goal to making money. Money is a welcome reward I’d gladly take for producing what’s a genuine passion. It isn’t, though, the goal, but a byproduct. Were money an impossibility, I’d still write the exact same stories I’m writing. That’s the test that doesn’t lie.
That truth is never more clear to me than when I’m avoiding a depressive episode. At those times, I turn to meditation, mindfulness, walking, and yoga. The aid I seldom talk about, because it sounds like my ego talking, is that I often spend time reading my own stories, not because I wrote them, but because of the content.
Each time, it’s also a reminder that my stories are those missing books on the shelf.
They’re missing, I believe, because they’re unique. Yes, they’re set in a fantasy world, Ontyre, where there’s worldbuilding and rules of magic. Shelves are full of that. They’re also (almost) always centered around a heroine. Shelves are full of that, too. What I could so seldom find were heroines who were the most unlikely of protagonists because they were the ones my heart longed to follow.
Thinking about them makes me, even now, smile. They are, each one, kind of a mess. In writer-speak, that means they’re flawed and have a lot of room for growth. From Riparia’s timidity that sparks to boiling outrage, to Zephtasha’s compulsions, to Talma’s obsessive avoidance, they find themselves little fish tossed into big oceans full of serpents.
They’re also introverts struggling with acceptance, identity, and femininity that’s condemned as a weakness. Sound like themes in my poetry? You betcha. In their case, life has felled them, then stood over them letting them know their qualities have no value. They’re heroines who are lighthearted dreamers in a harsh world who must discover self-acceptance. Along the way, they also discover friendship and love.
By now, these tales are fantasy that are starting to sound like women’s fiction, which is why it’s difficult to find on a shelf, especially when I add in certain LGBT aspects. So, yes, I’m writing for the other twenty people out there who can’t find that mix on the shelf. Thing is, I’m also writing for the thousands who don’t realize how much these stories relate to their lives, too.
That’s my talk, the thoughts I turn to in the quiet times when I need to hear them. They’re the reminder that what I’m doing is bigger than word counts and hours revising. Stories that make me laugh out loud, stories that make me cry. Stories that make me cheer, stories that make me sigh. That’s why I write.