As a would-be writer, there are two main things that inspire me to write. One is simple, the joy of writing. The other, a bit more complicated, and that is to feel the sense of accomplishment of having written something worth reading.
Last night, my boyfriend and I watched Whisper of the Heart, a Studio Ghibli film about a girl who is searching for her own inspiration. I identified with that story on so many different levels, and it took me back to when I was first really starting out in the writing process. I wrote my first story when I was six or seven, a story straight out of my imagination with cats, wild horses, and terrifying wolves. Cassie and the Wild Stallion never had a true ending, but it was only the beginning. When I was about eleven, I read the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. I read it so quickly, but I was so frustrated with the ending, that it inspired me to not only write my own version with my own characters but to – *gasp* – come to a proper conclusion. I was so sure that it was the best thing I’d ever written, that I wanted that reassurance. Much like Shizuku, I was wracked with feelings of inadequacy when others offered kindly (and needed) criticism. To this day, I’m still wracked with those feelings. Even now, on the verge of sending my current WIP in for independent reviews. But this is where the two elements that push me the most with my writing come into conflict.
I’ve lost my way more often than I should when it comes to writing just because I enjoy creating my own worlds. This year, I’m working to make sure I have an entire day spent just enjoying something about the craft. And I’m keeping my to-dos flexible to avoid burn out. However, I still don’t feel like I’ve fully completed the process without turning a story into a printed version of itself. And to do that, no matter how inspired I might be, is a long process. And if I don’t keep sight of the big picture, it can consume me.
With all the issues that come from the many levels needed to turn a written work into a printed copy, it can be all too easy to give up on other aspects. When I first started querying, it would pull me completely off my groove to the point that I wouldn’t write while I was waiting for answers that sometimes never came. For my own sanity, this meant that I eventually moved to self-publish. There simply aren’t words to describe what it is to hold something you’ve worked so hard and long on in your hands, now a tangible accomplishment.
Should I go back to querying? Probably. But for now, it is enough for me to simply hold that compilation of hard work in my hands, and maybe, just maybe, find a few people to appreciate it too. That’s where my inspiration to self-publish comes from. And that’s what continues to drive me, with roughly sixteen stories written, to continue to work through the hiccups and heartache necessary to get to that end goal. Even now, I’m sitting on one story that I want to have ready to go by April. And I know that there’s so much ahead of me, so many steps to take. But I also know that the end will be worth it. Even if all I make is a handful of dollars, the truth is that this process is priceless. So long as I don’t lose my way among the trees, so long as I remember to look up and see the sun shining through.
As the path to self-publishing of Through the Rabbit Hole continues, I will share a more technical post on some of the tricky issues I come upon (eBook formatting, looking at you). My goal for that aspect, in addition to just getting the book ready, is to try and help others avoid the same mistakes I make. Yeah, learning is half the fun. But if you’re like me, and can get lost in the technicalities, knowing what to do can make a world of difference.
Until next time –