I have always loved to write. For as long as I remember, I have been writing: stories, essays, even a few (terrible) poems. Writing has been so many things to me, and at times, far more than just a creative endeavor. It has been my best friend, where I can talk about fear, pain, sorrow, joy, laughter, disappointment, failure- all the ups and downs of life. It’a a place to work through problems and decisions. More than any of that, writing has been one constant love of mine. Almost nothing makes me happier than taking a wisp of an idea out of my head, and bringing it to life with words.
Somewhere in the past year, that changed. I’m not sure when, but some of the joy got lost. Writing became a chore, an effort, a dark cloud hanging over my head, pulling me down instead of lifting me up. I can’t put a time on the change, because I didn’t completely realize it had happened until I found some of the joy again, near the end of the year. It was only then that I discovered I’d lost it. I suspect the loss sort of creeped up on me slowly, rather than disappearing in a burst of flames. I simply realized that writing wasn’t quite as much fun as it used to be.
I think the problem hit its peak in November. November, as you know, is National Novel Writing Month. I try to participate every year. I feel there are very good reasons to do so. For some reason, I had a hard time narrowing in on an idea for NaNoWriMo this year. I am not a discovery writer. I need a plan. I didn’t have one. I suspect it was all part of the slow loss of my sense of joy in writing that made it difficult. I began writing, and not too far into the month, found I just wasn’t as thrilled with this idea as I could have been. Still, I felt obligated to write, and to finish, and to drag myself through it stayed. So I did. And I made the goal. Problem was, it didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel like an accomplishment. It felt more like a relief. Not at all what I usually feel about writing.
After that, I had decided to allow myself a little bit of a holiday break, and indulge in a fanfic idea that had been bouncing around in my head for a while. I’ve also been working on polishing up a few things that will (I hope) eventually follow the short story collection into independent publishing. And you know what? That was when I discovered that I had lost the magic, because all of a sudden, I was enjoying the process again. I was excited to sit down and write word after word. I was excited to unravel tangled plot elements, to sketch out a timeline, to dig into a character’s background, even if it wasn’t part of the current work. And that is also when I realized that I had lost that excitement somewhere in the past year. It felt really, really good to have it back.
So, what did I learn from all that? First, it isn’t always fun. And maybe it isn’t supposed to be. Maybe we need to lose some of the magic, in order to appreciate it when it is there. Perhaps losing it makes it more important to work at keeping it.
Second, goals and challenges are good, as far as they go. They can be motivators that get things started and keep your eyes on the future. But they can get in the way, also. As writers, we are creating art, for good or bad. I don’t mean that we should have some sort of elitist idea of the superiority of our work. Of course not. But it is a creative endeavor, and if we lose sight of that, we lose an important part of the reason we do what we do.
Third, if it isn’t exciting to you, then find a way to make it so. Or let it go. Change things around. Re-invent the plot, or the characters, or the setting. Because if you don’t enjoy creating it, no one will enjoy looking at it, either. Sometimes, you just have to let one go, because it isn’t providing what you need.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I think they are just a way of setting yourself up to fail. But if I were to make a writing resolution for 2014, it would be to focus less on goals and expectations, and more on enjoying the process, and hanging on to the magic that makes me want to write. Because more than anything else, I want to continue to love sitting here and putting words together and weaving a story out of them.
Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.
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