|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
IS THERE REAL VALUE IN WRITING TO CHALLENGES?
RANDOM THOUGHTS ON A SEEMINGLY TOO FULL SCHEDULE
I'm not going to go on too much on this. Lately it has come to me that I have lost sight of a very important part of what being a writer is for me. That is the necessity of being selfish, or at least far more careful about who and what I give my time to.
I was afforded the opportunity to enter into a blogging challenge at the beginning of the year. What the heck, right? It seemed like a good chance to grow as a blogger and perhaps gain some audience share.
Other things have come along in the meantime. A call to complete a first draft of a novel over the summer as part of another challenge. A real time participation in a series of themed poetry readings. Offering to help a total stranger with what turned out to be a story in serious need of editing. All of this coming into a life that has a full time (plus) job. A commitment to a an extensive (for a layman) study of one of the major Buddhist sects in the world. Family and friends and all the myriad details of life.
Along the way I had forgotten that a large part of being a writer is that solitude to pursue what I want at the pace and concentration I need. Yes, it is a different world. The demands of getting your own name out there are incredible. Publishers and publicists want to know you have already established a ground swell of interest on your own before they lend their dwindling influence to your cause. It is because of this that I have had to draw back from some things.
I am a writer. If someone needs detailed and complicated help straightening out a story of their own, they need to locate an EDITOR. That is what they do. They enjoy it, they are paid for it ,and they will do a far better and more concise job then I will. The kind of effort I was putting into those things was draining too much from what was needed for my own work. So, as of today, ask for a quick critique and I'll be glad to help. Please do not ask me to read your novel, short story, or poetry unless we've developed some currency in the world and you've already done much of the heavy lifting expected of an author. If I do, remember you asked me and my opinion is given with little filtering, my time is important, and some appreciation would be nice.
As for challenges? They're a great place to learn how to drive yourself to meet deadlines, quotas, and other people's expectations, but this game isn't about what the crowd wants. It's about your personal vision and the achieving of that through your process. As the other participants faded and disappeared (including the organizers, in one case) I realized once again that there are always hard lessons to be learned. Mine was, and always has been, that my expectations of the world are far higher than its own expectations of itself. But, this is life.
I will complete my agreed to chores. Sometimes with a grunt, and other times with my more familiar sarcastic abrasiveness. But I do look forward to their completion so that I can close a couple of the doors into my time and sit and stare at the wall and wonder what the next word should be. That's being a writer, the rest is just stage acting.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis