“The Great Pause,” as Scott calls it, has been an opportunity for some. Extra time off of work, a chance to pursue other goals or re-invent oneself. For me, I lucked-out. I was able to, as they say in the biographies, “Quit His Job To Write” about a year ago, thanks to some savings and the need to help with some family who were pretty much confined to their retirement home.
In the intervening year or so, I’ve managed to do a few columns (I do two monthly ones now!) as well as the weekly flash fictions but I almost feel like I’m wasting time as I haven’t finished more than a few full-length stories in all this time.
It’s a matter of industry; when I started trying to write seriously in the 1990s, I would typically write out the idea for a story or write out the beginning of a story but I rarely finished them. It was a matter of learning writing discipline which I had to teach myself to do. Finally, I told myself that I wouldn’t start any new stories until I finished the one I was working on. I’ve kept to that routine until the past year where I’ve been starting stories (full-length ones anyway) and not finishing them.
We are living in strange times; there is nothing wrong with vegging out if you can. The notion that we always have to be one-hundred-percent productive all the time. Speaking for myself, however, I feel a little guilty that I haven’t produced at least a novel in the last fourteen months. I haven’t even read a novel all the way through in the last fourteen months!
I haven’t been very productive when it comes to full-length stories; I usually manage about four a year on average. I manage about fifty two flash fiction stories a year (most for a prompt pic site.) But “productive” to me means writing something salable, whether I sell it or not. I have to keep remembering that finishing one piece of writing that is aimed at a market is something most people don’t do after they leave school. I have about twenty-five stories that have been published in some form by people other than me. I also have about five full-length stories in some form of progress that I am at least pretending to work on right now. This is more than a lot of would-be writers have.
I am in no way resting on my writing laurels but I need to let them feel more comfortable.
Long ago, a very good friend of mine who was also a writer advised me to “keep on plugging away.” It is very good advice, but it doesn’t apply just to writing or any other artistic endeavor. It could well be said that it applies to life as well.
Jeff Baker blogs about reading and writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror on or about the thirteenth of every month. He has been published in “The Necronomicon of Solar Pons,” Queer SciFi’s “Innovation” and “Amazing Stories,” among other places. He posts fiction on his bloghttps://authorjeffbaker.com/page/2/ and can be found on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/Jeff-Baker-Author-176267409096907 He lives happily with his husband Darryl who doesn’t mind Jeff’s typing while they snuggle on the couch watching vintage TV.