Here is one of the secret ironies of being a published author: As you move toward launching a book, your writing life is decimated. Those quiet, searching hours of half-starts and rambling experiments, those blessed days of research and play and discovery, those driving weeks of inspiration—as well as months of paralyzing self-doubt that this mess of words you’re accumulating will ever amount to anything—are replaced with two-hour conversations with your copyeditor about the proper formatting of ellipses and coaching sessions on how to use Pinterest to market your new book and the seemingly exciting but actually grueling work of setting up readings.
I could whine about all this, but instead I want to make a point: It’s hard to stay balanced—it’s hard to keep writing—when you’re also publishing. Launching a book is its own creative endeavor, as I’ve explored in earlier posts, but it is not writing.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met in writing classes who don’t really want to write, they just want to be published. I understand this; having a book in the world communicates something essential about yourself and gives that self credibility and influence. I like creating something beautiful of my questions, memories, and imaginings and then getting a chance to be in thoughtful conversation with readers. I really like being published. I, too, want to be an author who participates in our culture with my work.
But what makes me a writer is not any of these recognizable successes. What makes me a writer is that I like writing. And right now, being an author is getting in the way of being a writer.
My attempts to stay balanced include a daily dose of journaling, and maintaining (barely—this is 11 days late!) my two blogs. I read a bit of theology each week, which is my way of fueling my creative life. And I hold onto the hope—I try to have faith—that my beautiful, uncomfortable, language-saturated time will return. It will. The writing life has its seasons. For me now, the author side of my world is turned toward the sun and the writer side is enduring a polar vortex. But the world is still spinning.