Once upon a time, I decided to write a book.
I didn't know about agents or editors or POV changes or central conflict, I'd never heard of RWA or blog tours or royalty checks. I just had an idea in my head and I thought I would try to write something.
So, I did. I wrote three chapters of a werewolf romance story and I showed it to my college roommates who were visiting for a "girls' weekend." Well, they loved it. They asked me what my "goal" was. I was stymied. I was supposed to have a goal? My goal was to write a story, and I wanted someone to read it. You need to get this published, they told me.
And thus began my path to publication. I joined the NECRWA, I honed my writing skills with The Quirky Ladies. I entered contests. I finaled in contests. I won some contests. I bagged my werewolf story and started a new story. I finished that story. I sent queries to tons of agents and editors and publishers about that story. And finally, after months of rejections, I got an email that said....I love your story.
But I was soon to discover that getting a book contract was not the end of this path, it was just the beginning. Soon, I had edits and galleys and blog tours and reviews. I had a sequel to write. I had a deadline.
I missed the deadline. But I kept writing. And finally, months later, I finished my second novel. I submitted it to my editor and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
One week later I almost died.
Literally, I almost died.
I had a massive heart attack and had a stent put into my heart.
Suddenly, all of my old "goals" didn't seem so important anymore. Staying alive seemed pretty freaking important. Sitting in a chair for ten hours a day and writing was not conducive to me staying alive. I needed to stay active, exercise frequently, jet my sedentary lifestyle, and most importantly, decrease my stress.
My good friend Vicki, a Quirky, a writer, a mother and wife and artist and traveller and all-around well-balanced and awesome person said she wasn't interested in getting on "the treadmill." She observed that many folks are on a "treadmill of their own making"--and pretty much driving themselves nuts. (Yes, I noticed that Vicki is a very wise person).
I also noticed that Vicki works sometimes, and writes sometimes, and paints sometimes, and goes on camping trips sometimes, and enjoys martinis with her friends sometimes. She doesn't set stressful goals in her life that squash the joy out of her hobbies, and she keeps her priorities straight. This is not a simple task for many people, but it is an important task and one reason that I admire Vicki so much. She has rejected the treadmill and embraced her life, full of friends and family and multiple hobbies and moments of joy.
Which brings me back full circle to why I write. I don't need an agent or a multi-book contract or a bestseller list or a huge royalty check. I just want to write a story and have someone read it.
So, I'm back to writing a couple of hours a day. Pantsing the hell out of a cool idea I've had for a while. Don't care if I finish it this year or in ten years. I go for a walk before I write. Then, I go for another walk after I write. Then, I putter around the garden, play with the dog, chat with my neighbors, bike around the block with my kids, and cook dinner with my husband.
And hopefully someday soon, I'll be enjoying a martini with Vicki and the Quirky Ladies. (Or maybe a glass of heart healthy red wine!)
I am making a choice.
I am stepping off the treadmill....