I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an old friend. He was a composer; one of the finest musical minds I’ve personally known. He primarily wrote for orchestra, but he could also write jazz and pop with the best of them. We had many stimulating conversations about art and aesthetics; he taught me more about understanding and appreciating creative works than any classroom I was ever in. We once discussed the nature of pure artistic passion, like that of Mozart or Beethoven, asking ourselves, If alone on a desert island, without an audience, would he still compose, would I still write? He concluded that he would not, and I thought I would most likely be obsessed with trying to get off the island. I’d write about my adventure later. In the meantime, I’d be all about the work of being rescued. He eventually came to stop composing because there was no financial security in it. He took to studying computer science instead.
This reminiscing has led me to consider my present situation and the pieces that lie before me. I really never expected to make a fortune from my writing, just a living. Because that would mean someone was reading my books. It would mean I had an audience. I ain’t Beethoven. I can’t write for writing-sake. If I can’t share my stories, what’s the point? I love it when someone comments (good or bad) on one of my blog posts because at least I know it was read – the artistic connection was completed. Nothing has been more painful than knowing I’ve given away 100’s digital copies of my books, and not a one has been read. (I know this for a fact; Kindle allows authors to track how many pages of their work have been read at any given time.) It’s disheartening, to say the least.
Another factor contributing to my desire to quit writing has been, simply, stress. My favorite definition of stress is: The confusion created when one’s mind overrides the body’s desire to choke the living shit out of some asshole who desperately needs it! Typically, here’s how my day goes:
Up by 4. Write for an hour. Then stop writing, because I need to get on with the day. Help get the boy up and ready for school. Get myself to work. Ahh, work. I won’t go into the details of my job, but it is made up of an endless series of tasks that can rarely be completed, instead have to be constantly stopped so that another task can be addressed. So on and so on. This inability to accomplish much – to choke the living shit out of what needs to get done, if you will – leaves me so mentally and physically exhausted by the time I get home that getting any more writing done has become a rarity. Writing, like any artistic endeavor, also alienates those around you, adding stress to their lives, as well. This has been my routine for years. Is it any wonder I needed a triple-bypass 3 years ago? I’ve given up hobbies, like music and studying Spanish. But writing was never meant to be a hobby. Then quit your job, you may say. Not an option at this time. The real world of bills and responsibilities – the work of getting off the proverbial desert island – supersedes.
So, I’ve taken a break from writing, leaving me to figure out how to fit the pieces together in such a way that I can move forward, build an audience, and choke what needs to be choked.