Life interfering with art

Busyness has caused me to delay my new short story collection, Grinning Cracks, several times. Originally, I had hoped this would come out over the summer, then pushed it to fall, then the holidays, and now we’re looking at March. Fortunately, as this is a small-press publication and the goal is to release the best product possible no matter the time frame, I have some wiggle room here. As life caused me to have to push this and other writing and editing projects back, I had the luxury of putting this collection on the back burner until I could get a better handle on my free time.

But there’s the rub. There is no such thing as truly free time, even if you’re spending an hour doing little more than staring at a wall. Sometimes you need to spend an hour staring at the wall because things are hectic and insane and you need some time to meditate on your place in the universe or something. The human brain can only process so much; stress and overextension are very real things. If you truly spend days, weeks, even months not writing because to do so would be to add one more item to an already over-full calendar, then by all means, don’t write. It’s okay.

Still, the whole concept behind NaNoWriMo and other such challenges is that not writing is, at its core, an excuse. An excuse to not indulge your creative side. An excuse not to risk failing at a project. An excuse to procrastinate or needlessly worry about things unrelated to writing. Basically, the lack of desire to write could indicate a whole lot of things, including but not limited to a serious problem of lack of enthusiasm for beloved activities, which is a symptom of something more serious. If you’re a writer who writes and writes constantly and you’re suddenly no longer inclined to do so? Something is stressing you out, probably.

Or maybe you’re not a writer. And that’s okay.

There are folks who think they’re writers but who actually aren’t. They’re in love with the idea of writing, the romance of living in a garret and pounding away on a keyboard to acclaim that only greets their reputation after their tragic death. Or they’re sure there’s a fast-track to fame and money, not realizing that, no, not everyone is going to be J.K. Rowling, especially these days, and that if you’re going to still go for it you have to love the process.

I can’t say that enough: you have to love the process. Because sometimes the process is the only reward for this endeavor.

With getting my short story collection released, most of the process part of things is long done and it’s just the proofreading part I’m hung up on, the final approval of formatting and putting the finishing touches on things. I’m not particularly worried that this lull in my output is because I don’t still love the process. In fact, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not as worried about getting the final hard copy out there and in people’s hot little hands. For this very personal collection, the process of composition really was my best reward; everything else is icing on the cake.

That said, March. I promise. No later than March.

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