Today, I feel the need to spend time evaluating my writing life and goals. I do this periodically to be sure I’m on track. Because let’s be honest — I’m ambitious, and idk how else to know whether or not I’m even coming close to approaching my goals.
So much about publication, about remuneration, about our writing legacy, is out of our hands. All we can do is write, consult the best sources we know about what to do next, put ourselves out there, and maybe whisper a prayer to our higher power.
One of my overarching goals is to be a part of literature today, a vital, intertextual, integral part of the voice of my generation. To not only interact with but to elevate the art, if possible. To cause others to pause, think, and live more fully. To speak for those who do not know how to articulate their experiences.
I strive to do this through fiction because there I have license to more fully tell the truth.
Oh, and if I can entertain and transport others while doing this, well alrighty then. No pressure, right?
I try to remember that attempting these lofty ambitions means sacrificing things I’d enjoy. Like bingeing on Netflix. Wait, I still do that but I want to cut back. Like ever getting around to spring cleaning. Except during the times I’m stumped on what to write. Like thinking I will ever organize my books by the Dewey Decimal system or the aesthetically-pleasing-but-confusing-because-how-do-you-find-anything-color-coordinated system.
Neck-twisting transition(s) ahead alert.
So, unless you don’t know me at all you know I’m obsessed with Virginia Woolf. Look at what Barry bought me for my birthday! I just BAWLED when he gave Woolf and company to me. And just check out Vonnegut! That hair!
We had another Woolf encounter earlier in the week. Barry has wanted to go to a Robyn Hitchcock concert for, well, ever since he started a “Twittermance” with him. (Shh…don’t tell either of them I said that.) We had the opportunity to go to a show in Indy. And after the show, at the informal meet-and-greet Mr. Hitchcock replied “Drudge?” when Barry said his first name. Robyn recognized Barry. *Fan squee.*
My point: while the opening act was on, Tristen, who had some unique lyrics, much to my delight, my muse starting tick, ticking. I had no paper with me and my phone’s charge was low, so what was I supposed to do with all of the ideas that started flowing? Eventually, I dug out a yearly planner I had just picked up at the bank and wrote a couple of sentences in the back of it in the dark. (And I scammed juice for my phone off the helpful sound engineer, Chris. Good folks, those guys. I recommend getting to know the person at the sound booth, especially if you are a musician.)
Then my muse kept talking and talking during Robyn’s opening songs, while Barry and I squeezed up front to get a better look at that dapper shirt Robyn was wearing. (Photo credit goes to Barry.)
My muse started screaming, though, when Robyn played his next-to-closing song: Virginia Woolf. Which I was familiar with, of course, but was delighted and surprised that he would play in concert. Want to hear it? By all means.
Here’s the thing I finally realized: my muse loves live music! It’s got to be music I am free to drop in and out on, focus, then daydream. Live music. My mind fills and twirls. I am there, not there. (Same thing happens at some movies for me.)
Lyrics suggest other words, ideas. Heart-felt performances remind me that this is my tribe, my people, all artists, and I get them and they me and we share the same struggles, ambitions, heartbreaks.
Same thing happened when my DH filled in on keyboards and vocals (and bass for a couple of songs) the other night for a local band. Because there wasn’t a table available up front at the venue and the music was too loud to talk over much, I was free to listen, think, feel. My mind soared, and I wasn’t even drinking.
That being said, I now have the next-next subject for my novel after this one, thanks to live music. I have a title, too. I am excited about it, though the realization of it’s a year or more down the road. Wish I could share more, but that’s not a great idea for incubating concepts. I am making notes for both it and my next novel to keep track of it.
So if I am to hope at all to tie this post together, let’s sum it up this way: pursue your passions, feed the muse, and sacrifice when it’s called for to attempt to achieve your goals.
And play. That’s what the literary finger puppets are for. I pity the overly serious, I really do. I used to be you. And I was miserable.
Maybe I’ll fail to achieve any of my goals. Maybe I’ll blush when I read this a decade hence.
Then again, maybe I won’t.