Anyone who writes, or anyone who reads, for that matter, should be familiar with the concept of the balancing act. Stories are, in so many ways, made up of delicate balances. Characters and plot, conflict and comfort, humor and drama, all need to be constantly rebalanced against one another to keep the story-machinery working.
As if that weren't enough, there are also balances affecting the author of those stories. Balancing writing with what is sometimes called a "real life" is one. As much as I would love to simply abandon myself to the pursuit of my story ideas, to chasing down those elusive little metaphors and similes, to wrestling with my characters until they give up their secrets, I need such mundane things as food, clothing, walls, warmth. And at the moment, the writing does not provide those for me.
Having a day job isn't all bad. It keeps me from becoming a hermit, and provides an endless stream of conversational nuggets and plot ideas (because trust me, if you have ever seen it in one of my stories and said to yourself, "How did she think that one up?" odds are it's straight from life), but it's also time-consuming, frustrating, and wearying.
Could that same set of adjectives be applied to writing? Yes, of course it could, but at the end of the day, writing is productive. After I'm done writing, I have a story. Or a poem, playlet, chapter, whatever. It may not be a good whatever, but it's visible, tangible, real. My day job doesn't offer any feeling of success or progress in that way. Whatever I'm doing now, I'm going to have to do again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day.
But, of course, the day job offers a paycheck, and the paycheck keeps the lights on and the food in the fridge and all that good stuff. Also, as much as I love the feeling of accomplishment which writing gives me, writing is kind of sterile unless it's read. And... forgive me, O readers, but it's true. Where my fan fiction had thousands of readers, the originals I've worked so hard on, and that I love so much, have an all-time audience of maybe a couple hundred, worldwide. Unless someone bought copies and then made them secretly available to lots of people for free. Which could be happening. I don't know.
Someone I'm very close to has been asking me things lately like "Would you be willing to keep writing even if you knew that you'd never become successful, or that it wouldn't happen until after you were dead?" I think this person may be trying to drop what Jo Rowling used to call "anvil-sized hints" on me, and I'm not quite sure what to think of that. I would have to work just as hard not to write as I do to write, because the stories are so very insistent to be told, but it's discouraging when even a person I love very much seems to feel that failure in my lifetime is a given.
This does seem the time to recall that a little over a year ago, I said here on Anne's Randomness that I was going to continue with my current writing model, self-publishing and no overt marketing, for one more year. That if I did not begin achieving some measurable success by that time, I would start considering other options, other avenues. Which might mean trying out traditional publishing, and that, in turn, might mean that I would have to take down the Dangerverse.
Do I want to do that? No, of course not. But might I have to do that, in order to make a living doing what I love? It's possible. It would even be poetic. Not happy poetry, but then, the good stuff seldom is.
This is not a threat, not even a warning, just a musing on possibilities to come. For the time being, the Dangerverse stays where it is, and there will indeed be a DV Christmas story this year, probably called "The Most Dangerous Time of the Year" because that's just how my crazy brain works. And I'm very, very far from giving up on writing, or publishing my writing, or someday making a living at it. But I may have to make some painful choices in order to get the scales to balance.
That's just life, though, isn't it?
Thanks, as always, for reading. More news as it develops.