Daring to write again
About a year ago, I decided to stop writing.
writing, that is. Emails, reports and other officious writing
continued. What stopped was the carving out of time at the end of a long
day of (enumerated) work, once children were read asleep, to fuel up on
caffeine and peck away at the next novel until my frantic mind
calculated that four hours of sleep on a weekday was, in the end, not
Not only would I not write, I would allow myself not to feel guilty for not writing. You writers know what I mean.
inner voice that would demand its tithe of focus and time would be
condemned to a sound-proof box and I would take the path of “normal ”;
the majority of humanity who don’t have to build the world anew every
morning but dwell in the structures and the institutions of the world as
they exist. Do the 9 to 5. Have hobbies that know their place. Do
homework with the kids. Hang out.
It took me a long time to get there.
and the creative life had been my bread and butter in my 20s, producing
original story ideas for newspapers, magazines and even some
television. But that was the 1990s, in that dying era of the paid
By 2000, the Web was acknowledged as here to stay and I
transitioned to HTML convincing others that the Web was just like other
media just with code (and please, don’t leave the actual writing to the
webmasters). Interestingly, it was also the beginning of my published
literary career and the splitting of my work and creative personas: Web
professional by day; story writer by night and “stolen” time.
published a book. Had babies. Ran a reading series. Published more and
got on the social media wave in that last naive period of the pre-ebook
publishing. Then all hell broke loose. Kindles, Kobos, EPUBs, oh my. And
what’s an author to give away or keep and what’s a decent ebook
In 2010, my publisher, Key Porter, closed its doors
and my experience in the late 2000’s was that other publishers seemed
ill-equipped both for the social media revolution, never mind the e-book
revolution to shortly come.
I forged a new path. I self-published
my own e-version of novel on Kobo while deciphering open source
software, EPUB and BISAC’s. I taught workshops on book marketing and
e-publishing. I went to book-tech conferences and sat on panels. I
co-developed an EPUB writing software, just. All fascinating projects.
All my way of trying to make sense of the current upheaval in book
publishing. But no “real” writing. Who has time to write in chaos?
after living “normally” for a spell, I discover I might just have some
extra time in which I can write. More crucially, there have been two
creative ideas that keep returning to scratch at my door. Do I dare
start to write again?
Let’s look at state of the writing world.
Book industry - still pretty much in chaos, although friends are still getting published. In hardcover yet.
Template for the ebook of the future - still waiting for this.
reward - not only stagnated but reversed. Decline of the mid-list.
Expectation of authors to write for free. Generally, depressing.
writing tools. Remember when the only writing programs were Word and
WordPerfect and although both sucked at least they were consistent? For
this essay, I had to remember which device it was saved on, whether it
was MAC or PC or open source. Do I want a distraction-free interface or a
format that my editor can read?
Yet, if I am to be truly honest, I
also stopped writing because it no longer brought me joy. Upon hearing
that a complete re-write of my latest manuscript was necessary to make
it “sellable”, I thought: “Nuts to this.” I no longer was passionate
about the book, indeed, not sure if I ever was. And if I’m going to have
to go through all the editing-formatting-marketing-selling-technical
effort, there must be something in it for me.
Yes. That’s a
good start. Shut out the rabble and meander to the page. The page is
always waiting. And if there is some delight to found there in the act
of creating, then continue. Maybe, just maybe, I’m ready.
Girl #3. She also oversees the Web presence of the University Ottawa and blogs occasionally about Web, writing and social media at www.nicholemcgill.com.