Oh go on! You know you ask yourself this question - if you are a writer that is. In the middle of the night, you wake up and can't get back to sleep - you had a dream, perhaps. The one with the woman wearing silver lamé again. And you lie there feeling as if sleep will never come again. Sleep is as foreign a concept as the international dateline. Simply not comprehensible. And so you start to worry at a plot line, a bit of a snarl - OK - a lot of a snarl. You simply don't believe that anyone in the universe would be remotely interested in what you've written. Or you keep switching from loving what you've written to hating it. Or you just read the most wonderful book (in my case it was Lisa Moore's February) and can't think that the world needs one more novel. Ever.
So there is this existential question hovering above your reclining form. And then the more practical, less philosophical questions crowd in. Shouldn't you get a 'real' job - one with a paycheck perhaps. Or, if you have one of these, and work your writing in your so-called free time, shouldn't you spend more of your energy trying to get ahead in that field? Shouldn't you take courses in your free time, become adept at Mandarin Chinese or computer programming?
You might wander from these thoughts to others. I know I do. Perhaps if you weren't writing all the time you would've noticed that your teenager was hanging around at the mall instead of doing her homework? Or maybe if you weren't away at some cottage revising the latest manuscript, you could've spotted the leak in the basement before it became a flood thus pressing home the point that perhaps you should get a real job (better job, second job) and you are back at the worry loop in the paragraph above.
If you are feeling a little more this than that - a little more crushed in the query process, for instance, you might wander from the 'get a job' loop onto the 'why does my family, friends, partner, dog, put up with me at all' loop. That can absorb hours of looping through the other areas and including all sorts of real and imagined sins.
For aren't we big gamblers when we write? Especially if we write novels or full length manuscripts (memoirs, histories, etc...) For they take years - or at least mine seem to. I know I can write a novel more quickly than when I started but still - they take a long time to finish and then you aren't. Finished that is. Then they take a long time going and coming from agents and publishers - a long time. Then if they are chosen by an agent or a publisher - or you are, more correctly - then they take a long time while the agent or editor has at them and there is a lot of business to figure out - cover art and book tours and on and on. And all so we can make what? I don't know - I'm hoping for an advance of 15 thousand. If the whole thing doesn't collapse before I get there that is. That ought to work out to about $1,300.00 a year. Yes. We are gamblers and not for good odds.
But I'm a writer. That's what I am. I may not be a successful writer, a published writer, a famous writer, a rich writer, but no one can tell me that I'm not a writer. I write. I sit down and keep at it, day after day, week after week, month after month. And even in the worst of my misery over the last few months, and the years of the midnight loops I just described, will I give it up. I will write and I will write novels. I will become a better writer with the writing and as I invite more and more critique into my life. And I will write.
Please spare a thought for the family of Jane Kennedy Sutton. Jane died last Friday. She had been sick for awhile but never burdened her fellow bloggers with complaint. She was a generous and kind person - known in the blogging world for her wonderful comments and her dry wit on her blog Jane's Ride. She will be missed.