I enjoyed several aspects of being deployed to Iraq for a year. One of those positives was having the opportunity to write this blog without feeling guilty about taking time away from my spousal unit. Writing is a solitary pursuit, which I seem to do best when I focus on the task. I can't write for diddly while sitting in the living room with the television on. Retiring to my CHU after the duty day was done (at least until the indirect fire alarm went off, or I got called out to go to a crime scene) allowed me to put in at least a solid hour of crafting tight paragraphs three or four times per week. While I didn't post everything I wrote, because some of it was pure crap, I was regularly exercising my dormant skills. Based on feedback from a variety of my blog readers, as well as my own self-critiques, I believe my writing improved from "Mostly Mediocre" to "Occasionally Good". This isn't false modesty by the way, as I do a lot of reading, and most of those published authors leave me in their dust. I also recognize that the authors whom I admire and respect work their butts off to achieve such results. I have asked myself a lot recently, "So, Dave, are you going to settle for your deployment blog being the zenith of your writing career, or are you going to move forward?" My ambition is to write a decent, enjoyable novel or three, and I know in both my head and my heart that no novel ever wrote itself. The big question is whether I have the inner resolve and commitment to finish the 40 or so drafts it's going to take before something is good enough to be published.
Thomas Edison's Inspiration versus Perspiration Ratio definitely applies to writing popular fiction and non-fiction.
There is another factor which I alluded to earlier in this post. I'm not sure if I'm willing to cut time and energy from my relationship, and also my civilian job, in order to write as frequently and intently as I'll need to accomplish my goals. Tonight, having pissed off my wife during a stupid argument over how precisely-centered the new shower caddy was, it's easy for me to channel my frustration into introspective journaling...Hence this longer-than-usual blog post. Sometime in the next 24 hours, I'm going to need to apologize, and my temporary visa to Isolation Land will be revoked. I'm also traveling more frequently as part of my job, which sucks more energy out of me than such trips used to. While I can always take my laptop along and write while holed up in my hotel room in the evenings, I know that it'll be tough to pass up just vegging out, resting up for the next day of workshops, facilitating planning meetings, or driving back from Spokane or the Tri-Cities for three to six hours. Ironically, I truly enjoy those activities. (Well, except for driving 'til my ass goes numb.) It's definitely the best part of my job, and I like feeling that I have accomplished something to help my fellow Washingtonians survive the myriad disasters lurking out there. Yeah, more internal conflict...is it any wonder that I'm bald as a politician's lie?
A number of my friends have been moaning about their decisions to give up something for Lent. Not being one for organized religion, I usually view their public vows of sacrifice with some skepticism. After all, the whining about how tough it's gonna be to stop posting on FaceBook, or drinking coffee, or buying Victoria's Secret underwear seems in my opinion to devalue the act a bit. Quietly changing one's lifestyle to demonstrate humility seems much more in keeping with the Christian ideal drummed into me during Sunday School lessons 50 years ago. Having said that, I can also choose to "give up something" in order to write productively, but there's no heroism or sacrifice or altruism involved...If I want to succeed as a writer of popular fiction, I'll need to make some relatively significant changes in my life. Am I willing to do this? I'm thinking about it...but as of tonight, I just don't know.