When I was invited to become part of the Indies Unlimited staff and write an article every month, I felt surprised and delighted and honored. Then I wanted to vomit. I’m not good with commitment. I tell myself that I like writing too much to be obligated to it, so we’ve just been cohabitating. I write whatever I want to, whenever I feel like it — or not — no pressure.
We have had our periods of exclusivity, and I’ll admit that I used to swing dance every Friday and Saturday night but now I mostly write. Yet the choices leading to now have been more about the moment or an alternative than a decision to make writing a priority. I’d rather research an essay than dance this Friday. I’d rather edit stories than watch TV on Tuesdays. I’d rather work on character development than cook — ever. There were some big concessions, but I never fully committed. Okay, I’ll write a book, but I’m not promising to let anyone read it. Okay, I’ll publish it, but I’m not going to tell my friends about it. Okay, I’ll start a second novel, but if it frustrates me so much I cry, I swear I’ll put it in a drawer and not think twice about it; I can’t handle that kind of drama in my life.
Recently, writing and I have been in a good place. I want to write every week. The stories are humming along, I’m getting ready to publish again, and my next novel is beyond the throw-it-out-the-window stage. For crying out loud, we were in Vegas on vacation and the thing I most wanted to do was write (by the pool and in between concerts, but still…). Isn’t that enough? Why did this proposal have to come now?
I like my freedom. Plus I have a day job that takes a lot of energy, so if I want to flake out in the evening to recuperate, I need space to do that. Unless my writing is going to pay the bills, and I don’t see that happening, do you? So there have been months in the past when I haven’t even put pen to paper outside my day job. But I wasn’t happy. I could never see why I was cranky and blue with a muddled mind, until as a last resort I dumped my thoughts into a notebook, and 10 or 15 pages later, I felt fresh like a spring shower. So I guess I don’t always write just because I want to; sometimes I have to.
A few years ago there was no personal blog and no Facebook and no Indies Unlimited in my life. There was just my manuscript with me, sneaking moments here and there to tweak a scene and scribbling intensely into the dark morning. There were times I was so frustrated I did cry and want to rip it to shreds, and I did put it in a drawer for a while. But I came back and toiled through the bad parts. Now, I feel that secret pride and deep joy of accomplishment that is only found on the other side of work. There are still many days when I doubt that feeling, and I think that writing is not for me. But I can’t ignore the bookshelf full of journals from 20 years of pouring my heart out in words. Or the scraps of paper piled in my box of story ideas. Or the blog and the Facebook and the Twitter and the reviews and the speaking engagements and the coworkers talking about my book at lunch when they think I can’t hear. The secret is out, and there is no turning back.
Excuse me, here comes the nausea again…
Whatever it is that makes me want to run from the obligation, it doesn’t matter. I’m already in the relationship. Writing is more than a hobby to me and has been for a while, and maybe I’ve been holding it back from its potential. It is long past time to step up, acknowledge the commitment, and take it to the next level. So, I do.
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Krista Tibbs is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novel, THE NEUROLOGY OF ANGELS. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and her blog: shadesofwhitematter.com[subscribe2]