My impression of the writing endeavor has certainly changed over time. In the dozen years I’ve been writing fiction as an ongoing pursuit, my understanding of myself as a writer has shifted a number of times, and the why of self-publishing along with it.
I have to go back even further, though. In the early 2000s, being able to write nonfiction was a desperate desire for me. Everything seemed to hinge on it. I had no idea, at the time, the steps that would best bring me to that goal (or that the goal would shift). I read about writer’s block and the psychology involved in it, having no idea that I had not yet really found my foundation as a writer. I’m not talking about rules of composition. To me, one’s foundation goes far deeper, into the realms of heart and soul.
Releasing to novel-writing allowed integration. I’d gone through some years (the dissertation years) of delving deep into spirit, finding both disciplined and playful ways to do so. I’d also learned to drop into egoless vulnerability, being able to say, “I don’t know” or “I need help.” I think those can be essential qualities from which to approach writing—especially for excessively independent people like me.
In my early fiction years, n every creative writing group there were ham-fisted critiquers, but I was hungry and soaked up criticism quickly: cut down on adjectives and adverbs, let the actions and feelings convey what’s needed, avoid passive voice and repetition, and so on. Soon, I looked back and saw clearly that I’d changed, in competency and in finding the fun.
After ten years, I published my first book. Within a year, I published my second but had been working on it for several years, so the two books took ten years—at least for me to feel they were ready to go into print. Friend writers (Scarlett West) helped me to take my first fumbling steps on the self-publishing road, while pointing to further sources. I can’t emphasize enough how important community is for indie-writers. To write and publish without readers involved (i.e. writing groups!) is unfortunate, for quality as well as enjoyment.
I never could have guessed these later stages (I’m sure I’m not through with stages). A factor that should be obvious, but wasn’t, is that one not only grows in skill; one grows as a writer, in the tales we can tell. That’s the wisdom that’s been bubbling up lately when I lose heart, wondering why I continue to put weekly energy and time into this endeavor. I’m not just writing more, I’m writing toward something. What, exactly, I can’t yet know. But that’s a mystery I can’t forego.