Coasting and the Ideals of Writing

Back at the first NerdCon:Stories (2015), I attended a panel where Patrick Rothfuss commented that he's found with new writers, especially if their work is good, that it usually leads to breakdowns in their life, usually resulting in divorce. When he reads an exception first book, he does what he can to find that author's contact info and call them up to ask, "Hey. Are you okay?"

I never got a call like that.

However, I can't help but recognize that occurrence in my life. It's something that's stuck with me, and it's been easier to coast off that ideal in the year plus since my divorce and the release of my first book. I looked back recently and found it's been over three years since I wrote my last novel. It's an idea I'm still enamored with, but there's so much work to do that I've never really picked up the task. It's much easier to work on the ideas for new books, new projects, new web series, than it is to sit down with an old project and do the necessary hard work.

I'm still not sure where I'm headed or what's going to push me back into the novel writing lifestyle. A friend of mine recently passed me his (incomplete) novella. I'm about halfway through with it and have been editing as I go, putting commentary where I can, all the while proclaiming the best advice I've ever received: "Do not edit before you're done."

I had a coworker also recently admit that he's a writer. I gave him the same advice, as well as directing him to my old standby Write or Die.

I've found that when I talk about writing, I'm more at ease. The words come easily and I feel like one of those experts that's spent not an insubstantial portion of his life learning everything he can about one subject. In truth, I've spent more than a third of my life writing, even if it has waned in the past few.

It seems like that old life is calling me back, in many subtle ways. I read an article not too long ago about highly creative people, that it comes in fits and spurts. There may be years between, but it always comes back. Maybe yes, maybe no. It's been far too easy to use my divorce as a reason why I haven't been successful. Why I don't find the time to write or edit.

The truth is, I've found other ways to pass the time. When I am in full writer mode, I can't read books, listen to podcasts, watch movies, go on dates, play video games, or any other dozens of small activities that pull me away from the text itself. My most recent foray has been the Dubious Consumption YouTube channel. In it, I get to flex my muscles and they are coming back slowly.

I also split this blog from those videos, so I wouldn't be relying on them to play in lieu of content. In their own way, they were, but it seems disingenuous for them to be the main output. I guess what I'm saying is, I'm still writing, even if it takes different forms. Hopefully soon, I'll get to my next novel.

And like that, I'm outro.

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.