by Will Viharo
Spring is the season of rebirth, and that doesn’t just apply to tree leaves and flowers. The sense of a fresh start is literally in the air. Take a deep breath, and inhale the possibilities of a brighter future.
Romance is in the air as well, but love comes in many forms. Your love for your writing is no less worthy of respect and investment than your relationships with pets or people. It’s a part of your identity.
Nurture it, and you will grow both personally and professionally.
Your relationship with your literary ambition is like any marriage: it takes work to strengthen and sustain the bond.
Any truly healthy writing career, like any healthy marriage, will sill experience ups and downs on the path to ultimate fulfillment. The way you know it’s not on life support is if it keeps getting back up again, despite the pitfalls, which are inevitable.
Success is always relative to your personal goals. It’s unrealistic and counterproductive to measure your progress against that of your peers. Everyone advances at their own pace, and their contributions to the community are unique, and should be appreciated that way by both your audience, and yourself.
But I certainly understand that sensation of sinking into oblivion or hitting a wall, repeatedly, with no apparently positive results, at least nothing tangible.
If you have confidence that the work you’re choosing to share with the world is of the highest quality within your capacity, then that in itself should be a source of pride.
But sometimes it’s just not enough. I get it. You feel completely lost in the tide of talent swarming the online marketplace. How do you stand out? Why even keep trying?
Ultimately, only you can come up with the definitive answer for yourself, and it will vary from individual to individual.
But as any marriage counselor will tell you (I assume, never felt the need for one myself, since I was lucky enough to marry my best friend!), the initial spark that ignited your passion will sometimes flicker in the breeze of adversity and sometimes even blow out altogether. This means you need to turn that pilot light back on.
When it comes to relationships with people or your writing, that is not as simple as the metaphor would apply – simply sticking a match in the gas carefully, so it doesn’t explode. For one thing, the “match” isn’t the same for everyone.
Writers find their muses in all sorts of places, from pets to places to music to memories, and often all of the above and much more. But even if you manage to break through your writer’s block, the thrill might still be gone, especially if your bills far outnumber your readers.
Not every writer attempts to make a living with his or her craft. Few do, statistically speaking. Typically, it’s just a side job being juggled with a number of other gigs.
Sometimes focusing on one of those jobs will take the pressure to meet your own literary goals, so it helps if you’re doing something else you enjoy making money, besides writing.
But if writing is your only creative outlet, if not your only source of income, then that’s reason enough to keep doing it. Basically, you have no choice. That is, if you want to be happy. And happiness isn’t not always directly associated with wealth.
Yet no one wants to believe they stay with a spouse due to lack of options. It must be because you really, really want to remain with this person and build a life together, not because you have to out of fear or insecurity or desperation. The key? Love.
Same with writing, no matter how abstract that concept may seem. Do it because you love it, even when it feels unrequited. Even when you feel nothing. Reach down into your heart and remember what drew you to this vocation in the first place.
Then ask yourself: is there really anything else you’d rather be doing with your life?
Maybe there is. Not all marriages work out for the same reason. People change over time, and don’t always grow together.
Maybe you and your writing have grown apart. If so, don’t waste any more time pursuing something that is no longer rewarding, on any level. Get on with your life, discovering and chasing down new dreams.
But if your honest response to your temporary breakup is you’d rather work it out than call it quits, trust that instinct. Then do what you need to do to get back in your groove.
That may mean just sitting down and writing something, anything until you hit your artistic stride again. It’s like couples that set aside time for “date nights,” so they at least have the opportunity to rekindle the flame that brought them together in the first place.
Like a flower, the seeds of your creative inspiration have already been planted. They’re in there somewhere, buried in doubt, waiting to sprout again. Just give them nourishment and then room, and time, to flourish.
There’s a reason sending flowers is often the best way to patch up a fight…
PHOTO: ZACK MCCARTHY