I had a lovely plan for our traveling circus this year, but that plan was quickly derailed as first one monkey made a break for it with the others quickly following his example. Now they’re running amok leaving my circus a mess. Such is the nature of adulting. The oldest of the Prankster Duo successfully finished his Tournament of High School and is now planning his attack of the University. The youngest is hot on his heels as he begins his last run at the High School Tournament. The Knight is busy tackling the Dragons of Chaos solo style at House of Flames when he isn’t home trying to help round up the escapee monkeys. As for me, due to an unexpected reorganization of the Institute that Helps Knight Pay the Bills, my plate overflowth.
And that’s just the immediate monkeys. Trust me, there are many, many more running around.
All of this left me exhausted and unable to hook up with the Muse for more than a quick “hiya!”. So when I ran across an article on Writer Burnout in the RWA ‘zine last month (I think it was last month) by Kristen Kathryn Rusch, I had to hide in a closet to read it while I ignored the screeching demands of my cray-cray monkeys. I can’t find a link to the whole article, but I did find Kristine’s two original posts that made up the article here: https://kriswrites.com/2017/11/29/business-musings-burnout-and-the-indie-writer/ and here: https://kriswrites.com/2017/12/06/business-musings-sustainability/.
Not only did she talk about the recent rise in authors who are burning out and leaving their writing behind, she made a point on career sustainability that resonated with me. So much so, I figured I’d take the time to share here.
This is what I read:
“If you want to sustain your writing and publishing businesses, you have to stop thinking like a manufacturer. You need to start thinking like an artisan.” (Business Musings Sustainability Post by Kristen Rausch, 12/6/17)
Think about that for a second. You, the writer, a freakin’ artist by the way, need to stop manufacturing (produce more faster) and take the time on your projects to be the creator of hand crafted wonder.
In her articles she makes a point of how with the rise of the beauty of indie publishing, writers found themselves trying to write more faster, say like putting out a full-length novel every three months (yeah, there are those who can do that! Mind blowing, I know!) as they kept trying to catch the attention of wider and wider audiences, and for some replace the day job. But for a writer to churn out novel after novel after novel on some untenable schedule where eventually they go nuts–okay, maybe not nuts, but they do burnout–destroys that creative spark that brought them into this craft in the first place.
And that, my friends, is heart-breaking.
Some of us may be able to figure out the magic formula that allows us to craft our stories in such a way we aren’t dependent on a day job. Some of us will (cough, cough, me) will probably juggle the day job and crafting because we have plans (very specific plans) for ourselves, families and futures. But no matter which road we take, we need to remember what we do is a work of craftsmanship. Now if you can create a beautiful handcrafted piece of fiction in three months, I bow to you, but my monkeys are jacked up on banana-nip and unfortunately, that is not me.
But you know what? That’s okay.
For now, I’m making sure I don’t douse my own creative flame because I plan on crafting stories for many years to come. It’s a given that we write to share our stories, but let’s be honest here, we aren’t going to turn our noses up at the cash. Kristine touches on the fact that we miss valuable opportunities to make that cash when we’re trying to go faster because we fail to work smart. So I’ll be making a point to remember that being an artist means taking the time to ensure my creative well stays deep, my craftsmanship stays on point, and that I work smarter to maximize the opportunities from the pieces I’ve already created.
One way or the other, I’m going to round up those monkeys and put them back to work in my circus.
Wish me luck.