Extended Writing Hiatus

I’ve done very little during the last week or so except read and think. I suppose I could think of this period as something of a midlife crisis — a writer’s midlife crisis. I’m not sure what’s going on. I go over the titles of work in progress and I don’t see much that I think is worth continuing. I look at the completed works and they strike me as superficial and amateurish. If I’m going to continue writing, I need to find a more meaningful direction, and I have only the faintest glimmering of what that might be.

Maybe it would help if I look at the last three years as a time of learning to write fiction, and give up the idea that I’ve produced anything of value. Now I have to learn how to produce fiction that might, just possibly, have some value.

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9 thoughts on “Extended Writing Hiatus

  1. I haven’t commented for a while, but I might remark that when I started writing back in the 1970s, I read somewhere that you need to write a million words before you can call yourself a writer. I wrote mine during that time and never published anything, although I collected quite a few rejection slips. I definitely found it a valuable learning experience.

    1. I appreciate the vote of confidence, and I know that people read for different reasons. I’m not ashamed of what I’ve published so far. I just know that I need to go further as a writer.

  2. Knowing you need to go further as a writer is the beginning of wisdom, Catana. It’s not a comfortable space to be in, but it’s necessary if you’re to progress upwards – and I believe you will. Do something else while your unconscious sorts out what it wants to do. It won’t let you down. While I’m here, may I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the season. My son is in the UK and my daughter in Melbourne, so it doesn’t mean much to me – but then, I’ve always hated Christmas. Celebrating a Winter Solstice festival in the middle of an Australian summer is no picnic. More like hard work.
    Enjoy your break, you’ll come back fighting fit from it.
    Danielle

  3. Cheer up, Catana. I was impressed by *Hidden Boundaries* and regard it as an early literary novel by a serious writer. (I’m putting together the points I will cover in my review.) I think you should at least consider ditching the genre label altogether and going mainstream. Do not denigrate the worthiness of your work so far. Others may not agree with you!

    I’m going to go out on a limb here, so feel free to snap at me should the urge take you! (What are friends for?) Do you know the work of May Sarton? When she retired from teaching at a New England women’s college she fulfilled a lifelong dream of living near the ocean. Her journal, *The House by the Sea* chronicles her experience of living alone there and reveals some of the emotional issues she had to wrestle with. What unwittingly comes through in the book is that she was not as happy as a solitary as she had expected to be. I know from personal experience that being alone a lot can bring on some nasty problems with depression and apathy, especially at emotion-charged times of the year like Christmas. Could this be the origin of your current ennui?

    1. I think you’re right about the need to drop or at least change genre labels. There was a big debate about that when I was posting Hidden Boundaries on Live Journal. The book doesn’t really fit any standard genre, but a few readers did feel it was more literary than anything else. And that seems to be where I’m heading in spite of every attempt to avoid it. This is a particularly good time for you to bring that up because I’ve been trying to decide whether to give the near-future SF elements of The New Serfdom more emphasis. As much as I love science fiction, it just doesn’t seem to be where my writing wants to go. It’s the effects of social and other changes on the characters that concern me, not the science fictiony details. So, once again, I’m grateful for the input.

      On the other hand, I’m a solitary by nature, so living alone is perfect for me. And Xmas has no emotional charges for me at all, other than wishing that it wasn’t a ubiquitous annoyance that just needs to go away. The last two months of the year are my least favorite, not because of the weather, or being alone, but for the enveloping frenzy that seizes people and tries to shove its way into every nook and cranny.

      I think that writing and publishing has become such a mass mentality thing that my kind of introspection probably seems abnormal. How many self-publishing writers care about more than getting the mechanics and the plot pinned down, so they can publish and start making the big money? My concern as a writer is more like yours as a philosopher. I wouldn’t go so far as to compare it to creating art, but it has to accord with something very deep in me. Sure, I’d love to make more than a few miserable bucks each month. Who wouldn’t? But that isn’t why I write.

  4. I’m glad to hear that you’re okay with being on your own, Catana. I share your aversion for Christmas (too many bad memories), but do enjoy English church choirs singing traditional carols. I have acquired a small collection of favourite recordings over the years.

    Your desire to write about the effects on characters of social and technological change, rather than the actual changes themselves, does point to literary writing. *Hidden Boundaries* is a powerful novel that reads like science fiction only in the Orwellian way. If you had set your novel in the near future instead of an alternative universe, I think more people would have made the connection to that type of fiction. It sounds like The New Serfdom may be heading in that direction.

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