Writing is a Joyful Pursuit in the World

I have finished Wonderbook as of Sunday, and for me, it was a very liberating experience. I was reminded of some of the things I’m doing right, but mostly it made me think about the things that needed thinking about.

When I began sending out Abby Rath, I hoped that it would be good enough and commercial enough to sell. It wasn’t. I think I understand now that while you need to hope that some day some of your work might get out to other people, that in the end the reason you create is because you have something to say and you want to work hard to say it. You’re trying to forge your ideas into something worthwhile and interesting…for yourself.

This is also the path that I’ve chosen regarding my teaching. Of course, there are students, but I’m always trying to improve my ability to get that information to them in a large part because I believe in what I’m doing. My job is service, but I’m trying to live my life and career so that when I look at them, I can say, “Yes, I did what I wanted, and I’m satisfied with the job I did.”

Yes, I did what I wanted, and I’m satisfied with the job I did. So, let’s make some bold statements about writing. First of all, from here on out, I’m not counting words. I’m shaping a story. I’ll be visiting subtexts, writing scenes about what I need to have background for, looking at inspiration and different ways in, revising outlines, doing whatever it is I need to write a story. It’ll be like my thesis. We wrote and wrote and revised and wrote and had readers and suddenly, one day, it was done.

I’m already limiting myself to one writing trip a year for critique. I believe that might be a step in the right direction. I touch base with some friends on Thursdays, but times I’m not writing, and just talking about writing are times I’m not creating and moving toward the goal of writing. I need input from others, but I also need to be in touch with my vision for work, much less tentatively than I have been in the past, when I’ve been putting my work out there to see what people think. The only way I can figure out what I’m doing is to do it and look. Certainly, other people can help, but I need to know if they see what I want, and then if they do, to use their advice to enhance what I want. So, I’m working on getting that core of readers that really get me.

Mostly, I believe that my writing is a joyful pursuit in the world for me. I’m getting off the doggedness train, and back on the delight train. I’m tired of hearing people talk only about hard work and not about imagination, and I hear that a lot in writing circles. I want to fly and imagine, and I was so glad that Wonderbook went there, rather than trying to reduce technique to solid math and slog.

So…this book? I’m working on it. I’ll be ready for some readers eventually, and I’ll ask readers that I think will give me some good feedback. And then, we’ll go back and do what it is we want to do, with honest open eyes. I will endeavor to not think of this as a job or a status or anything like that, because that’s the surest way to kill my interest in it.

I am in pursuit of the best work I can write.

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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