About a year ago, I decided I should stop trying to write for publication.
My reasoning was logical. I had very little time or energy. The likelihood of being able to support myself on my writing was slim to none. I had just gone through a divorce and been diagnosed with new and exciting health problems, so I’d had to get a 9-5 (ok, 8-6) office job, give up writing full time, give up my small textile business, and sell my small farm and all its animals in order to support myself and my children. All this with a thoroughly demolished sense of trust and a broken heart, having lost not one but three of my best friends in the divorce.
I reasoned with myself that, in light of so much change, I needed to be realistic. If I stopped trying to write for publication, I would not leave myself vulnerable to further disappointment. I couldn’t have broken dreams if I didn’t start out with fragile dreams in the first place. I only had so much emotional energy; how much could I realistically sink into something with so little chance of paying off? It wasn’t like I got emotional support from writing; feedback for writers is as sparse as the hair on a teen boy’s chin.
So I stopped. I wrote a couple of self-indulgent fan fiction stories. That was kinda fun. I wrote some short nonfiction essays. But in short order I became a more and more unhappy person. My existential crises got worse. I had moments of suicidal ideation.
Finally, I gave up. I started writing For Reals again. Novels. They’re still very sketchy, and none is even finished with the zero draft. But I work on them a few minutes a day, which is all I currently have when I am not sleeping, working or taking care of the kids. It’s not much of a life, sure. But I had it drilled into my head that I don’t get a choice about being a writer; I am a writer, full stop. Might never publish anything again. Almost certainly will never “hit it big” or even be able to support myself with it. But I’m still going to do it, because to do otherwise leads to madness.