Writing Without a Net

Writers sometimes speak of the writing cave as if it's a deep dark place of confinement. But self-imposed hibernation isn't about artistic fragility or a need for separation in order to create. On the contrary, we need interaction with people to be able to construct believable fictional characters.

For me, writing is how I make my living, and the cave is the place where I work. Although storytelling is an enjoyable calling, it can also be challenging and at times downright grueling, especially when looming deadlines, reader expectations, and life's normal interruptions come into play. Getting my work done means giving it the total concentration it demands.

A few days ago, I had a conversation with my youngest. He began college at barely 17, a bit young for sharing living space with strangers and juggling relationships and setting his own daily agenda, all while trying to answer the all-important What do I want to be when I grow up? question. Recently, he began joining study groups for his more demanding courses, and it's starting to pay off in the form of better exam grades.

Even so, he remained frustrated. When I wondered why, he said, "It's still tough."

That's when it occurred to me that he'd swallowed a misleading notion our society often endorses: that once he discovers his passion, it will all come easily. Work he's "meant to do" should be immediately fulfilling and stimulating. All joy and rainbows. The career edition of Happily Ever After.

So much NO.

An instant HEA is no more true in a vocation than it is in any relationship worth having. Both require dedication, patience, and commitment. Knuckling down and doing the difficult stuff is what makes work - any kind of work - more fulfilling. And on that note, I'll be in my cave. ;)