Why have I been absent?

This will be the seventh or eighth time I’ve tried writing this column. I’m currently in my office at work on a Saturday night because I’m forcing myself to sit down and complete it. If i go home and look on my laptop, I’m pretty sure there are several documents with an incomplete attempt.

And, for the most point, they all start like this.

The range of excuses runs the gamut from “I’ve just been really busy” to “I’ve just ran out of things to say.” And in all honesty, it’s probably a combination of them all.

I have been busy. I’ve started treating my novel writing as an actually job. I’ve started calling it “Job #2” and I make a commitment every night to work on a project. And boy, I’ve gotten a lot of work done. One book has been copied from its original handwritten form into a Word document and set aside for a period of marination. Then I’ve started editing a book I wrote for the 2020 NaNoWriMo. Oh, I’m also attempting to edit, design, and self-publish a collection of my short stories. Don’t worry though, I outsourced the cover and commissioned a local artist. If I had done the cover, nobody would want to read it.

It’s funny, everyone says “don’t judge a book by its cover” but we all know people do the exact opposite.

Sometimes I get discouraged when I try sitting down with the intent of writing this column. If you used to read these in the past, you’ll know that I’ve tried to mix my writing life with tips about the craft. Typically, they’re issues that I’ve been suffering with in my own writing life. When I say that I’m “discouraged” it doesn’t stem from comments or negative feedback. I could really care less about what other people think about my writing.

My discouragement stems from the lies I tell myself.

“You’re terrible.”

“Why would anyone want to read this?”

“You should just give up.”

“Just quit already.”

“James Patterson is the greatest author in the world.”

It’s my belief that everyone, not just writers, have these thoughts running through their minds. For some of us, the thoughts are brief and we can identify them as lies. For those of us that suffer from depression, it’s easier to believe them as truth. When my wife left me in 2016, I fell deep into depression. Long story, but I’ve since recovered so that I’m not always believing the lies.

That doesn’t mean that I can ignore them completely. Writing is a lonely job.

Isaac Asimov once said that “Writing is a lonely job. Even if a writer socializes regularly, when he gets down to the real business of his life, it is he and his typewriter or word processor. No one else is or can be involved in the matter.”

It’s lonely being a writer. Most days I sit in my room or office and sit by myself with only a cup of coffee, some music, and the characters on the page to accompany me. Take, for instance, right now. It’s Saturday night and I have declined an offer to go to a friend’s house for a bonfire and card games. I very much want to go and socialize, but I know that if I do I won’t be able to write.

I used to meet a writer friend every Friday at 3 p.m. at the local cafe, French Press Coffee Company. We would chit chat, drink coffee, and write. We held each other accountable to get words on our pages. We even started writing a book together. Those writing sessions were the highlight of my week. But, life happens.

I forgot how often these columns of mine sort of turn into a ramble fest. So, let me summarize all of this into one cohesive sentence.

I’m back, reader be warned.



Categories: Mastering the Craft

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Writing is lonely and isolating, but you can do it. I believe in you Jim!

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