Emphasis on the Dancing today, I suppose.
I've been thinking a lot about my life as a writer this past week or so. Just to keep you up to speed, at the end of February I quit my day job and am now writing full time. We have savings, and my wife has always been a better earner than me, so we have a few years cushion that will allow me to take this kind of step. And while I don't want to wait a few years before I start earning out, I do have an unusual kind of freedom available to me that I've never had before. It's interesting.
Anyway, in the run up to this, I'm not really sure what I was expecting. This is something I've daydreamed about a lot, but now that I'm actually living the life day in and day out, there are things going on that I never really expected. For example, I have totally lost track of time. Everyday kind of feels like Sunday, because I'm not at work today, and I wasn't at work yesterday, so it must be Sunday. It has definitely taken me a little while to adjust to the openness of my schedule, to establish a pattern of persistent workfulness (I just made that word up. I'm a writer) that allows me to get wordcount without feeling like a burden.
Because, let's be clear, this is a work of joy. I can't quite describe what it feels like to be doing what you're best at, after almost forty years of frustration. Writing has always been that other thing I do, when I'm not in class, or not at work, or not trying to be the best gamer I can be. I take gamer-ness quite seriously, by the way. My new freedom of time has let me indulge that a bit more than I used to, and I'm really enjoying it.
But at the core, I write because I love to write. I don't have any deadlines right now, I don't have anything sold, so when I sit down I write the story that I want to write. Yes, it's much longer than what I usually do. But that's because it's staying true to the story arc that I've imagined. So many times in my previous books I'll be following the story arc, then I'll do a word count, a count of the days I have left before I have to turn the book in, and I'll start clipping things off. Not this time. I'm writing the book I've imagined. I don't think that I'm falling into some kind of Martin-esque maelstrom of word count, but this is a fantasy novel. I'm well past the halfway point in words of my previous books, but probably not even a quarter of the way through the story I'm trying to tell. I'm giving myself the freedom to write the whole thing, without padding, but without clipping, either.
Secondly, and I'm not sure how best to express this, either, but I'm taking joy in life. If you know me, you know that I'm kind of a down person most of the time. That hasn't been the case in a while. I wake up in the morning and breathe clear. I enjoy my breakfast, linger over the paper, and then I work. Not because I have to, but because I love what I'm doing.
There's more I could say about my expectations versus the reality, but I'll pin it to this. I feel blessed. I feel whole, in a way I haven't felt since childhood. I am joyful. God help us all.