While many use this as an opportunity to vent their frustrations, I realized early on that if I keep posting about my own insecurities these posts are going to start sounding very similar. So I decided to move away from "woe is me" and focus on motivation and encouragement. Each of my IWSG entries will be themed on inspirational quotes from people I admire.
Today's quote comes from another author whose work made an imprint on my fragile young psyche when I was a kid, Stephen King. I began reading his books after seeing the 1990 television-movie adaptation of It, a film that likely scarred the minds of thousands of clown-loving children who were unfortunate enough to stumble upon its primetime showing. Since then, I've been devouring his fiction off and on well into adulthood.
His name tends to be divisive in the literary world (though perhaps less so these days than it used to be), but whether you love him or hate him, there's no arguing with his success. Stephen King is a speculative powerhouse. When he speaks on the subject of writing, my ears perk up like a hound dog. The following quote comes from the introductory note to Four Past Midnight:
Like anything else that happens on its own, the act of writing is beyond currency. Money is great stuff to have, but when it comes to the act of creation, the best thing is not to think of money too much. It constipates the whole process.
This quote has particular relevance for me right now. I recently made a decision that completely altered my work schedule and lifestyle, chiefly to afford myself more writing time. It was something that had been floating around my head and heart for a very long time, and the part that made it most difficult was the financial cost involved.
Issues like this one have served as a constant reminder that as much as I love writing, it just ain't quite paying the bills yet. I've moaned more than once in this very blog about how I long to be able to do this for a living (preferably a respectful one), and I know I'm not the only one out there. In a perfect world, none of us would have day jobs. But one thing we mustn't do is bring the looming shadow of the almighty dollar to the writing desk with us. The muse has no interest in balancing your check book for you.
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with fueling your work with hopes and dreams--that's a positive. Let your desire for success motivate and compel you. But if you're still thinking about figures and decimals by the time you're pounding away at the keyboard, chances are you're not writing anything I'll ever want to read (unless it's because you're calculating escape velocities and time dilation scenarios--in that case, I love you).
When it comes to art, I don't think success happens by design. You'll drive yourself crazy trying to blueprint your future in an industry as tumultuous as publishing. That doesn't mean planning your approach to the game is bad, just remember that success is ultimately a by-product of talent and hard work. If you have both, and you persist to the bitter end, there's no reason to believe that your time won't come. I've said it before and I'll say it again. We writers have quite enough barriers to break through without setting up our own. So leave the money worries for the bill collectors and focus on your writing, at least until the end of your session. Chances are your story and your mental health will be better for it.