It’s a dog’s life, sometimes, you know? Writing, I mean.
What keeps us at it? Ambition, I guess. Love. An idiotic addiction to storytelling. Actually, I haven’t figured this out yet. There are a bunch of reasons not to write, certainly: It’s tough to get published; it’s tough to stay published. Then: bad reviews, novels that won’t catch fire, the doldrums where nothing much gets done, watching drek sell like crazy. Getting a bad back from too much hunching over keyboards. Getting asked constantly when someone is going to make a move out of one of your stories. But stop me before I get depressed.
We who are driven to write get plenty out the amazing experience of plumbing our own depths for the hidden story. It’s just that the game is tough. That’s why we huddle together at conventions, join writing groups, and for those of us who’ve been at it awhile, teach. Although many of us are just the teensiest bit anti-social, the little time we do allow ourselves away from writing, we prefer it be with other writers. This is because other writers understand that writing is important. We get validation for this weird vocation we’ve chosen. These folks get it. No explanations needed.
I just love that.
So, I’m a teacher, among the other hats that I wear. I give workshops, work on a local writers’ conference, give talks, and mentor other writers when I can. I do a newsletter that gives writing advice. It’s called Still Writing. Because I am, and hope you are, too.
I could say it’s paying it forward. Giving back, remembering the great mentors I’ve had. But it renews writers to teach writing. It takes us back to our beginnings, perhaps the most exciting time of our writing lives, when we were first figuring out how writing works and how to abandon ourselves to it. Heady stuff. And it keeps us connected to the writing community, a vast circle of writers whose experiences are remarkably similar.
We teach to learn that it’s not a dog’s life, after all. Despite all the setbacks, it’s a writer’s life, and that’s very good indeed. We just need a little help from our friends.