There is a sneaking worry that every writer who can’t afford to be a full-time Writer gets when other life pursuits take the front seat for an extended period of time…. Am I still a writer if I’m not writing? Every once in a while, since I started back to school, this thought creeps into my head – even now that I have a publishing contract – and not updating my blog for months at a time is one result of that.
But my answer to this doubt is, Yes, I am still a writer, because I am still building up ideas and plots, and I will still put them together and down on paper. Also, there is a part of my brain that is now hard-wired to store away odd bits of information from every source (classes included) for the construction of storylines and weird characters. I’ve mentioned here before that I have plans for a follow-up to The Life and Death (But Mostly the Death) of Erica Flynn. The ideas all clicked into place for the new novel while I was in my Introduction to Eastern Religions class. Since, like Erica Flynn, my new main character will also experience death as a major turning point rather than an end, I’m sure the realities of death that I’ve learned about in my two courses on Skeletal Forensics (and at the lab looking over actual skeletons and burial records) are going to affect the way I portray death in the new novel.
The thing is, I think it’s expected of writers (and we writers do it to ourselves) to define themselves not only primarily, but almost exclusively as Writers (or authors, if we’re lucky!) Or maybe it’s just me – because I know that my own satisfaction with myself as a person has consistently hinged on whether or not I was working on a book. When I wasn’t writing, I felt bad about my life and myself, and when I was writing, I felt pretty positive and self-assured. Writing is what I enjoy most and what I feel I’m best at, where I’m most in my element (possible exception: tromping around the woods). But in branching out and putting my life focus on other things (study, a career, opportunities related to study and career) I’m tremendously excited about the possibilities not only for my other pursuits, but also for the possibilities this opens up for my writing! It has to be on the back burner for the moment, coming in third on my priorities after school and survival (yes, school comes before survival on my list,) but it’s going to be so much the better for all the new experiences I’ll have to draw from.
Enough spilling my guts. Next blog: Weird Stuff I’ve Learned at School. Stay tuned!