Friday, October 31, 2014

On the auspicious eve of my first publication...

...I am wondering if I should just stop writing stories.

I quit trying to write fiction after grad school for many reasons:

-Too many good writers, not enough readers
-Wanted a job I could support my family with
-Wasn't sure that writing was a good way to have impact in the world--great books have been written for hundreds of years, but the world is still full of bad people (many of whom have read those great books).
-I sensed that the profession of literature made you kind of a dick, based on the fact that almost every professor (of literature) I knew in grad school was a dick. (Only one who was MY professor, but plenty were lurking about.)
-Even if I were a great writer, there was no guarantee I'd ever be lucky with publication
-I have no desire to write something if nobody or practically nobody will ever read it.
-I felt that after grad school, I was out of step with what made literature "great."
-Rejection is very hard psychologically on me. So why should I voluntarily add 50 to 100 instances of it a year that aren't strictly necessary? (It doesn't get easier with practice.)
-Tangibly helping people in the world is probably worth more than writing a great story.

So I didn't write for ten years. I barely read--at least nothing that was in English. My job is to translate, so I read stuff in other languages. But I never read English novels or short stories. And you know what? I was kind of happy.

In the 13 months of my mid-life crisis writing experiment, I think I've lost some of that happiness. You could crack wise about how wisdom brings suffering or something, and say that I was just filling those ten years I thought I was happy with mundane stuff. Isn't that what humans do, though? We focus on the secular, because it's what here. We eat, drink, and make human connections, and the time passes, and soon we're old enough to die and end all our troubles.

I'm going to let it play out a little longer, but this is very much an activity whose worth is under assessment.

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