I used to write poetry and dabbled in short stories as a kid, yet never considered penning novels until I was an adult. Now, I rarely write poetry, though shorts still sift through the deepest trenches of my mind.
For the past few years I’ve written full-length novels, helped others edit theirs, and even peeped a few shorts, articles, etc for friends. I’ve had brief hiatuses during major events and in my life, yet I’m still in the same place, striving to hone my craft and inviting people to check out my work in case they’d like to represent it.
And still, these short stories whisper in my ear, write me.
As an unpublished novelist, I felt guilty at the thought of spending precious time writing anything other than a novel—how dare I waste the resource of mental energy on something I don’t plan to publish?
I’d backed myself into the emotional corner of, nope, snag an agent first and then maybe you’ll deserve the luxury of frivoled time. I’d felt like I needed permission to write about what excited me because it isn’t a novel, and you haven’t “made it” yet.
Then one day, just to get these whispering sprites out of my ear, I wrote one.
I was in the middle of editing one novel while scribbling another, and this idea kept buzzing around like one of those mosquitoes you can hear but can’t find, and you just know it’s gonna bite you sooner or later… So, I gave in, and I wrote the whispers.
And I felt so much release. I felt so energized, revitalized, refreshed as a world builder.
Standing at only 12 pages (barely enough time to give readers a grasp on a novel’s situation), my short was the most pleasing thing I’d written that month. (Granted, it was the first day of the month…)
As a survivor of my own shackles, I wanted to share this story with other authors—both published or aspiring to be. Your story has worth. Your story even has a market. Your story has a place, and you deserve to drop whatever you’re working on to write it, even if you don’t plan on publishing it.
I was in the middle of editing one book and writing another—I had neither the time nor the right to take my attention away from the task at hand. But I did it anyway, and when I wrote the last word, I sighed with satisfaction and peace. I was riding the high of something completed, something finished, and something powerful, and it propelled me to finish what I’d started before it.
You don’t need permission to write a new exciting story—novel-length or micro. You don’t need to finish the story you’re in the middle of before moving on to another. (Okay, barring contracts and deadlines.)
But if you need to hear it, then let me scream it from your rooftop (with a harness and a bunch of inflated airbed thingies on the ground because I’m terrified of heights and exceptionally uncoordinated), WRITE OUT OF YOUR NICHE! WRITE THAT GOOFY STORY ONLY ITS AUTHOR COULD LOVE! STOP WRITING WHAT’S GOT YOU STUCK AND FRUSTRATED AND PEN WHAT KEEPS CALLING TO YOU.
Trust me, you aren’t sabotaging yourself, your dreams or your works in progress. In fact, you’re investing in them all.
3 thoughts on “The Guilt of Writing”
I’m so happy for you, Amphora, that you wrote a tale that gave you such joy. I’m at the opposite end of the emotional yo-yo: so eaten up with sorrow and anxiety that I’m having trouble writing at all. And the longer it goes, it seems the more power it acquires, like a snowball rolling downhill.
So thanks for the words of encouragement. : )
PS Send me the story if you like. I just finished Diana’s novel today, so I don’t have any pressing beta work. : )
I can understand what you mean.
Cath, you are a brilliant writer. I’m sorry that life is so hard for you right now. I wish I could world-build a place around you that’s safe and comfortable and kind to ease the burden of pain society insists on inflicting on each other. But all I can do is surround you with love.
This doesn’t help your yo-yo, but I truly do look forward to when you find the peace and energy to write again. Your stories give us a breath of fresh air, and it’s always lovely to see how excited you to share them.
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