I’ll confess that this one’s going to be on the spiritual side, so consider yourselves warned.
The idea that the dog’s surgeries could be tens of thousands of dollars has me a little panicked. I find myself in looping conversations about “he’s hurting and I want to help him however I can” and retorting “yeah, but literally at what price? What happens when you need to replace your car? Does this mean you’re not going to fix the things that are broken in your house? Take a vacation for the next five years?” and then brainstorming “well, maybe I could take some freelance work. Or start a side business” and then arguing with myself about (a) how much I hate freelancing and (b) how much work it takes to make actual money on a side business, given self-employment taxes and so forth. My brain is a noisy, stressful place, right now.
And then I hear another voice. I had an idea about a series of children’s books, based mostly on the dog, a couple of months ago. And I just keep finding more stories to tell (not that I’ve actually written a single word of them). And the voice I hear says “what do you think that idea was for?”
I’ve had people tell me that I should be a writer since I was 7 years old. I won my first prize for writing at 7 or 8, and I won prizes including publications in national magazines outside school throughout middle and high school. One of my majors in college was Writing. But I’ll tell you, it seemed mostly like it was a parlor trick I could do. Slightly more useful than my lifelong ability to gross out my sister-in-law with demonstrations of double-jointedness. People made a big deal of it, but it wasn’t a passion for me. In fact, in general, I have found it pretty unpleasant. I worked at it, because it seemed like a skill I could build on, but that itching to write something? I haven’t felt it as often as it seems like “real writers” do. What I’ve felt called to was helping people with that itch to do it better. It’s what’s made me a good editor. I can employ my skill without vision to a vision, and optimize it. And that felt like enough. But I wondered if it was a cop-out. This blog is partly my attempt to figure out whether it’s a cop-out. Do I have something to say?
And if you’re here, you know I have plenty to say. I’m not sure all of it is worth inflicting on all of you— I’m doing quite a bit of free-writing, so you’re having to wade through a whole ton of words to get to anything I apply any craft or planning to. And while that may or may not be awesome for you, the thing that I struggle with as a writer is getting to the point that I could shut my internal editor up enough to say anything at all. So it’s working pretty great for me.
But this series of books? I feel a compulsion to write them. I feel panicky that I’m not working on them.
I’ve been a publisher. I know the odds are against my getting published through traditional channels. I know that the odds, even if I am published, of personally making tens of thousands of dollars, are even lower.
But I keep on thinking of that cliche “If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” Is that what this looks like? I’ve spent a lifetime learning how to be a writer, what it takes to get published in this day and age, what it takes to make money in the punishing work of book publishing. Could this be the thing? I’m going to try to figure it out. Not betting the farm, not yet, but… wouldn’t it be great?