“Work” Writing Vs. “Fun” Writing: A Reflection (Part 1/?)

I’ve probably started and stopped at writing this for a while.

I had to think about it a bit1. Anyway2-3.

When I was a kid, I was thinking the endgame of my writing would be something like this: I write some books, and then I try to get them sold to some publishers or agents. Eventually, someone is going to take a bite, things move along, and then I would become a published author. And at that point, I would have officially Made It as an author.

What did that look like to me? I can still picture them, even now. Even my kid dreams were a bit modest. I could picture myself being Successful but not A Celebrity. A Celebrity status was something for guys like Stevie King, Tommy Clancy, Anne Rice4, the older Lit Boys like Hemingway, Faulkner, Updike, and DeLillo, as well as the pulpier guys like Elmore Leonard, Micky Spillane, and the others. Even as a teen I wasn’t totally thick.

No, I pictured myself as having Made It. That would mean some books on the New York Times bestseller list. That would mean the occasional appearance on the weekday morning chat shows they always host in New York or maybe Los Angeles if they want to be contrarian. It would likely be New York because that’s still the home of American publishing. Every so often, someone from Hollywood would call my people and one of my books or short stories would get optioned for a television series, movie, or even graphic novel.

I’d likely have a day job – maybe teaching at a four-year university after spending a few years earning my academic spurs at a community college near my home. I would be there, teaching writing in a nice, clean classroom with pristine whiteboards to eager young people with up to date laptops. People might call me “Professor Liegois” as I walked by them on the campus green or in the main buildings. I’d have a nice, cozy office somewhere on campus, stuffed with textbooks and novels, some of them even my own. And I would have regular office hours where I would help those students struggling with how do deal with the written word.

Man, I was dense as hell back then. What changed?

Well, life got in the way. I started being a journalist, then got into teaching. I got started in teaching junior and senior high school to give it a shot, but I always had my eyes on trying to get on with my local community college. I would have loved to teach there… but that was not to be. This entry’s not the place to get into all that business, but I think it might be worth a later blog entry to discuss how that worked out.

Then, I started trying to get back into the groove of writing. It was a long process to try and recover my love of writing fiction, of writing, period. I had spent a long time cosplaying as a writer, but I eventually realized that I had to start producing things to actually be a writer.

And that’s what I eventually did. Somehow I actually managed to get a book published. It wasn’t A Massive Success – like I even knew as a kid, few books are – but I was on my way.

However, during a recent time in my life, when I moved from my old haunts to the middle of south central Iowa, and I became involved with other types of writing, something changed for me once again. I began to fall in love, once again, with the idea of writing for the sake of writing. I started to write just because I wanted to do it, rather than because I wanted to accomplish something.

In Part 2 of this essay coming up (let’s say two days from now – this Sunday?), I’ll talk a little bit about how that came to be and what effect that’s had for me.

Footnotes:

  1. I’m also, once again, trying to write through a cold, which is not a good thing. And I’m going to try to travel cross-state to be at a book festival this weekend. They invited me, so I definitely wanted to be there.
  2. Just realized that is my favorite word to quietly and politely move on from a subject. My students take a bit to catch on, but sometime I think I should just be more blunt. But a bit of finesse does help. Ironically, I think, based on listening to his podcasts, that this is also a favorite saying of Jim Cornette, the pro wrestling podcaster and historian and former pro wrestling manager, personality, and promoter.
  3. Pro wrestling and my writing intersect a bit more than what you might expect.
  4. I was a Facebook follower of hers while she was still alive (and still am). She was a very sweet lady.

When Your Writing Gear Goes Down: A downer

Not sure if this entry is going to be any good. However, it’s what’s on my mind, and I figure it’s either write about that or sit and mope around in my living room trying to choose between movies.

I talked about my writing gear before. A person’s writing space can be a pretty sacred spot.

My primary writing space.

In recalling the hassles of this day, I think back not only to the little writing space you see above, but in the homes I lived in the comfortable river towns of Clinton and Muscatine, Iowa. Those homes and my current one have pluses and minuses. (Clinton’s was older and centrally located, but both convenient and inconvenient at the same time. Muscatine’s was big and more modern, but a massive hassle to keep up. My current Chariton house is older with an older home’s issues, but it’s small and cozy, and pretty easy to maintain.)

You want to have everything perfect. It should be relatively secluded from the hustle and bustle of wherever you are living – that is, not right in the middle of everything where people and.or kids and pets are running around and making noise.

Current writing spot – Secluded? – Check X for yes.

If you can keep it private, that would be great. Windowless works, although some writers need to be “inspired” by the nature outside. That’s cool and all, but I can get by without it. It’s really helpful to have a door that you can close. I did used to have said doors in the last two homes that I lived in (one a pair of vented doors, the other a regular room door that actually had a lock. That was pretty cool@.

@- I was also often sleeping in the same room, which I don’t exactly recommend. Maybe some other writers can explain it better. However, it feels like you are mixing too much of the energy of the sleeping room with the creative room and it mucks everything up. Something about the feng shui about the situation throws me off, even though I can barely even define the term and couldn’t explain the specifics of the situation. Now that I don’t have that going on, I think it’s a healthier mental situation@@.

@@ – You’re going to have to get used to these footnotes because I find myself getting into all of these non sequiturs and I’m not too inclined not to include them. I’m not a fan of David Foster Wallace’s fiction, but I did like some of his shorter nonfiction.

The Chariton home does not have a door, so it doesn’t block out any noice unless I’m wearing headphones. However, due to the twisting nature of the stairs up to that space and my bedroom, you can’t see my little area from the ground floor no matter where you are looking up. (Of course, that was the staircase where I dislocated my toe, but advantages and disadvantages, I guess.)

Privacy – little x, I guess.

Then there’s the storage capacity of the area, either for writing materials, books, accessories, and sundries. In my Clinton home I had built-in shelves, which was very cool and where I stored a massive amount of books. I managed to fit all of the books into some new shelves in the Muscatine home, as well as some shelves I installed myself in that room#. As you can see from the photo included with this blog, it’s a much smaller space than I had before in my previous homes. But, I culled some of my books, put others in storage, found some storage for some of the books in my bedroom, and we’re ready to go. With the top of that one bookshelf, the portable storage bin to the left of the desk, and the desk itself, I have just enough room for the storage.

Storage – X.

Which makes today’s dilemma a tough one. I turned on my computer after it made a Windows update and somehow my laptop is not able to access the Internet. The update apparently shut down the WiFi driver on my computer. I raged about it for two hours without figuring out how to fix it. I assume I will at some point, or I’ll have someone else be able to do it.

It means that I was writing this in the living room/dining room of our home on a hard chair and an unfamiliar place. But, I got a halfway decent blog post about it, so that’s something.