I’m tired of thinking about writing.
(I almost said that I’m tired of writing, but I’m not doing any, so how could that be the case?)
It seems like a few years ago all of the writing blogs I read were on the art and craft of writing. Now they all seem to be stuck on the business of writing. Not that I mind business, but enough is enough.
A lot of pixels have been spent on how much money everyone is or isn’t making, or should be making. Everyone either wants to be the next Stephen King or the next Hugh Howey. Publishing, marketing, money, money, money. Blah, blah, blah. Few talk about what goes into making the “product”.
I once heard Harlan Ellison describe a metaphor from someone else (whose name I’ve forgotten) that Hollywood was like climbing up a mountain of manure to reach a rose growing at the top. By the time you reached the summit, your nose would be too filled with the stench of shit to smell the rose.
I think that metaphor applies to more than Hollywood, and I’ve been feeling that way about the entire publishing business lately. In fact, I can’t get the publishing business out of my brain long enough to think about my own writing.
But here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: there is more than one rose. Everyone is so focused on the one at the top of the mountain of shit, that they forget about the rest of them. You may not get any credit for going and smelling one of the others. But at least you’ll still be able to smell it.
Confession: I don’t really care for the Olympics. Nevertheless, I was watching women’s figure skating the other night because I was sick, and the other channels were interrupting their programs for wall-to-wall thunderstorm coverage. According to the commentators, the Italian Carolina Kostner had a bad run at the Vancouver Olympics and had planned to give it up except for her mother telling her to continue for the love of skating. And Kostner nailed it that night. I don’t pretend to know how scoring works in figure skating, except that even people who know better think it’s rigged. She got a bronze nevertheless.
Now I know it’s not a perfect metaphor, because she’s a professional skater anyway, and would have continued skating even if she gave up competition. But the ease and grace with which she skated reminded me of the Zen archer’s koan to “be the arrow”. She appeared to be in the moment and enjoying the hell out of it rather than worrying about winning a medal.
And because everything is like writing, that’s what I want to find again. To forget about the “medals” of publishing and financial gain and accolades, and to simply do it because I want to do it. Because I love it, and because it makes me feel like a better, fuller human being.
To go and smell the roses, and leave the mountain of shit to those who still think that lonely rose is the only rose worth smelling.
That’s what I want. But it’s a hard thing to convince myself. That all this effort might be worthwhile, even if no one ever read a word.“Now, it all comes down to numbers. Now, I’m glad that I have quit. Folks these days just don’t do nothing simply for the love of it.” – Don Henley, “A Month of Sundays