For anyone who has ever been a writer, I'm sure you're sufficiently aware of the joys and sorrows that come with the craft, the ups and downs, the problems, and the successes. So I don't need to tell you about all of those. What I do want to tell you about today is a lesson I recently learned about writing that I never really understood before, but has really had a good, positive impact on me. For those of you who don't know, I'm an Anime fan. I'm also a huge fan of "What if" theories and questions. I mean, part of what you do in writing is to constantly ask yourself that question over and over again in the creative process.
This is where my love of Anime comes in. I recently came across an anime called "Bokutachi no Remake". AKA, "Remaking my Life". The general premise of the story is that, earlier in life, when he had the chance to make something of himself, fear drove him to avoid taking the hard, and clearly scary path, of going to art school. Later on in life that choice came back to bite him in the bum. So he wished within himself that he had taken that leap, and gone that way. Sort of a "what if I'd done things differently" story. Starting to see why I liked it? :)
Anyhow, he gets his opportunity at that second chance when he's sent back 10 years into the past, right before he made his big decision to go down the path that led to his failure, and instead take the risk and go to art school. He wisely chooses art school this time, and meets the three people who, 10 years in the future, are known as the "Platinum Generation". Namely, the three biggest art world super starts in art, singing, and script writing respectively, who end up being his classmates. I won't spoil the rest of it for you, as it's well worth watching if you haven't.
That being said, something came up in that show that really got me to thinking. Namely, that the three people, the leaders of the Platinum Generation, despite the prompting of the MC, ended up giving up on their dreams instead of him becoming one of them as he'd wished. He soon figures out why they quit in the future (he gets to go forward briefly to find this out so he could find out what mistakes he'd made in the past) and then sets about correcting that. The big thing that set everything off, and kinda killed their interest in their art was the deadlines.
And not just the deadlines, but all that came with it. Everything they were doing became about deadlines, and schedules, and required things, but not the love of the craft. And, while I'm not the artsy type, being very heavily technical in my thinking, I actually empathize and relate to them in my writing. I too lost sight of what made writing so enjoyable. And, as a result, my love of writing began to die, just like the love they had for what they were each doing, and what each one excelled at. I was looking for fame, for fortune (still kinda want this part, lol) and not what really drove me to write.
When it became about deadlines, production, publication, etc, the desire in me to write slowly began to die. Watching "Remaking my Life" got me to look back at why I first got into this craft, and think about what originally drove me in the early days, even though I wasn't all that good back then. It was because I loved stories, exploring worlds, getting to know characters like they were real people, places like they existed just down the street, storylines just as if they were in today's news. It was about the excitement, the adventure, and living in other worlds than my own.
Focusing my efforts to become rich, famous, and well read completely destroyed what made things fun, and enjoyable, and drove me to not only keep writing, but keep getting better. I think one of the worst things my friends did for me is to convince me to get published. I then added to that mistake by focusing all my efforts on not just publishing, but getting my books well known and famous, and acquire all the trappings of big name authors like Orson Scott Card, Clive Cussler and others. How they managed to keep their love of the craft amidst all that fame and success is beyond me.
I'm actually astounded that they could keep it together, and hold onto it, through all of that. But I think I know how they did it. Writing, and the joy of the craft, is what drove them. The paycheck they got in turn was just bonus. Ultimately, despite getting published, and becoming famous, they clung fiercely to their craft, and because if it, they never lost their love for it. Myself, I'm just now learning this. And yes, I'm a slow learner at times. Some things take a while to click with me. But once they do, they stick with me for a lifetime.
I think, going forward, I'm going to keep writing. But, not for any fame, or fortune, or success, or anything like that. I'm going to write simply for the love of the craft, by going back to the things that first drew me into this literary artform. IE, making stories I love, and sharing them with the world, with no concern for deadlines, or reviews, publishing, or any of the other trappings of success. I'm going to write, and do it because I love the art of story telling, the worlds that I get to live in, the people (although fictitious) I get to meet along the way, and more.
I guess this would go along well with the saying, "Find a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." So long as I go back to writing simply for the joy of telling stories that demand to be told, it will never again be a toil, or a struggle, or a burden. It will be something I will wake up to each day, and look forward to with joy and excitement, rather than dread and loathing. Never let success be the hammer that destroys what you love to do. Let success just be an outgrowth, and a side effect of what you love to do. Sometimes that's a hard lesson to learn, but it's also a good one. :)