As habits related to writing take on increasing roles in your life, you begin to see how much is at stake if you are to feel free to call yourself committed, engaged, beyond being a dilettante.
You begin to see yourself accommodating—or not accommodating—what your friends in business orientations would call income streams. The next thing to your own writing is the writing of others, which is to say work you are paid to edit, either by the author, the author’s agent, or the author’s publisher.
Another important factor to consider is the need to read, which of itself have become more complex because you are no longer able to read for the enjoyment you experienced when you began your journey of reading. You read now in fear of missing things, that you will not have read closely enough for it to qualify as close reading, which means that you will not have absorbed all you might have absorbed that will be helpful to your own vagrant writing craft.
Although you have to a degree disabused yourself of the hope that you will encounter one work that will make the process and the craft you seek plain to you, nevertheless you read as though you might have missed a clue, a detail, either in the excellence of another writer’s work or in the depressing sense of dread it sends ricocheting through your wiring. Thus alert reading looms large as a priority.
Students are ever so much beyond the concept of income stream in the financial sense. These splendid individuals are unique vectors of potential learning. You owe each of them the sense of her or his own voice, the vision of what story might be on an individual basis and such random-but-important nuances as what you will call generational tools, things they know that you don’t and ought to. Attention to students becomes as crucial as attention to reading. It is a partial truth to say you enjoy teaching; you enjoy imparting information, sharing dramatic sensations. It is a truth of equal partial completeness to say you do it to repay those from whom you have learned. You teach to stay ahead of them, to learn from them, to perfect what you think you have at least polished to the point where it becomes muscle memory, enabling you to ply your skill at a notch or two of greater depth.
You’ve moved for certain over the line where you’d be able to say that writing fucks up your normal day to the point where you are now able to say that your normal day fucks up your writing.
You’ve moved to the point where you accommodate your writing against the agenda of a given day. Never a patient person, ever eager for results, you fight the writer’s fight of Curmudgeon in this corner, and in this corner, weighing in at one hundred eighty pounds, the challenger, Consideration.
There are, you are pleased to say, individuals in your life and about your orbit who deserve consideration. Such as you can contribute, you do—in a way of sincerity and devotion rather than duty, which smacks of obligation, and is a breeding ground for resentment.
Writing has traditionally played hob with your love life, raising issues from time to time of which you preferred more, her or it. Depending on who the her was and the it was, you often reminded yourself of the late great comedian, Jack Benny, who often found himself in conflict with the hold-up man as portrayed by Sheldon Leonard, “Your money or your life.” Then the agonizing silence. Then, “Well?” Then, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.”
Someone who was not a particular fan of you or your writing accused you of thinking your interest and focus related to writing gave you some sense of entitlement. “Would that it were so,” you replied. You told her that being good didn’t really factor in the equation. In fact, you told her that if her calculus had any practicality, given your attitudes, you’d already be pretty good at what you do.
Don’t get you wrong; you’d have no problem being as good as your visions and quirkiness would appear to indicate, but you already crossed the line where good no longer matters.
Once, nearly twenty years ago, you were interviewing the writer, William Campbell Gault, for the local throwaway weekly. He said something that has remained with you. “I’d rather be the world’s worst writer than a good anything else.”
For your part, you are willing to fight the Curmudgeon vs. the Considerate battle, you’re willing to be quirky, impatient, have your day fucked up. You’ve crossed the line. You’ve not only told a number of persons to get stuffed, you have a few in mind you could with some ease add to the list.
Having days that threaten to fuck up your writing will do that to you.