Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oh, How I Wish For More Dry Feet

We have reached the last week of May solidly intact, and happily my 31 day sabbatical from writing, graphics design, marketing and concept art is coming to an end.  I don't really know where the month has gone, but it has been a great time of reflection as well as relaxation and I feel the flow of creativity building up within me.

As I get ready to put fingertips to the keyboard once more and get back to the business of making a living, I've started going through some of the things I've written over the last couple of years.  My hope being that I may be able to spark some inspiration for new articles and fiction to be written in the coming weeks.  It is interesting to read through the articles that I know I enjoyed writing versus the articles that have received the highest page views.  Sadly, there isn't always a correlation between what a writer feels is their most enjoyable work and what readers want to read.

Take for example, the article I wrote just over a year ago entitled Causes and Symptoms of Dry Feet.  I have not been discreet when I have mentioned to family and friends that I genuinely dislike this article.  Yes, I wrote it and it is a product borne of my own determination.  Yes, it got me through a bout of writer's block when no other idea would fall from the heavens and drop into my lap.  And yes, this blasted article continues to receive hundreds of reads each and every month, and is deemed as "popular" among my other works.  But the writing is bland, the topic is bland, the whole of it was forced out of me and onto paper by sheer act of will and not because I was enjoying what I was doing.

Then there are rare jewels like The Rochester Letter, a piece I wrote as an entry to a short-fiction writing contest that was required to begin with the sentence, "He had not been expecting a letter."  I love this piece.  I adore the way the picture painted itself before me while I typed away about an old man and his lost love.  I enjoy the few e-mails and comments I received from family and friends when it was published last fall, about how the story made them feel and what it reminded them of in their own lives.  And yet, pieces like this are quickly forgotten in the stack of submitted work and it hasn't had a recorded page view since Christmas.

This is a struggle that I have discovered many of us in the writing field, or any creative field, must face.  It is very infrequently that a piece that we love to its core becomes our legacy and cornerstone of our reputations as writers.  It is rare that we are able to open our hearts to readers and not receive critical feedback from the all-mighty "They" who get to determine what "They" say is good or "They" say is bad.  More often it is something that we slapped together without much thought or foresight and pushed aside as one more stepping-stone crossed that becomes our most widely known work, for better or for worse.

It is an odd feeling to be a writer and to not know whether or not what we write is going to make it.  It is even more strange when those "Dry Feet" pieces we push out just to make a quick $5 so we can buy a sandwich turn into golden eggs.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could know in advance which pieces would be read, and which would be forgotten?  Surely then, we would put more time and care into the words flowing out onto the page.

Perhaps this is just one of those life lessons.  Treat every article, no matter how brief or mundane, as if it will be your greatest accomplishment.  Because, it just might be.

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