Really. Writing.

All right guys. It’s time to shoot from the hip in a frank fashion. This is sort of how my writing career has evolved.

This might seem familiar to some of you. Each time a little more fantasy is peeled away, but the idea is that it is replaced by the more interesting possible.

This is my evolutionary path.

1. The want. At this point, my dream of writing is a day dream. I feel like I want to write, like life will be better if I write. I fantasize about writing lifestyles and money. I have not yet graduated college.

2. The frustration. Having determined that I want this fantasy writing life, I am aggravated that my real life and obligations continue to get in my way. I fantasize that writing will make me happy. With a little break through now and then in hobby writing, this predominates three college degrees and a few years as a professional.

3. The epiphany of time and talent. I realize that no one will make time for my writing but me. I realize strangers want to see my work. I fantasize that I am publishable. Epiphany occurs Memorial Day, 2007.

4. Goal driven writing approved by me with suggestions from friends. This has served me well up until this point, but has probably been the reason why I haven’t been published as much as I like. On the pieces that have been published, talent shines through. I fantasize that writing is something I can do with less work than my thesis, and that publication is largely a matter of luck.

5. After workshop thesis equivalency theory. Well, sure I do have talent, and people do want to hear from me. I am in the top 2-3 percent of the slush pile. But my work could be so much more. It’s a good thing I have people to push me now. Oh dear. It looks like this is going to be a lot like writing my thesis, both good and bad.
I can no longer write with the goal of just being finished. Ambiguity is back, in a big way.

I fantasize that I can make a meaningful contribution, maybe by writing a classic, if I roll up my sleeves, listen to other people, and really work.

What have I learned? My writing focus has gone from doing it for self-satisfaction and fun to a serious desire to create something lasting that is quality. My fantasy has gone from thinking how cool it will be to be a writer, to how difficult it is (which may not be a fantasy at all…).

I feel like I’ve been peeling away these layers of illusion until what’s left is my talent and my skill scrutinized under the cold sun of the eyes of writers who evaluate me as they would each other.

Even the troll book seems monolithic at this point. Not insurmountable, but monolithic.

I console myself that it felt this way every stage of the thesis. And I still made it.

This is much more fun. I get to play some before I unleash the editing pen of Damocles. But the creative process is not what I thought it would be in the end, once I’m inside of it and I’m really listening to it.

Life is kind of interesting like that.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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