I have had a case of mild existential despair when it comes to my writing “career” these last months. As if the intense drama surrounding my mom’s illness and death in September, the sometimes-Screamin’ Eagle ride of young adulthood Van Loon-style, and the exhausting slog of looking for a church home weren’t enough to push a person to the edge of a ledge, there has also been the quiet drip-drip-dripping of a faucet in the background.
The dripping is the sound of 110,000 words of a really good book that could help people sitting on a shelf whilst publishing business relationships get squared away. It’s not fatal, and its not on the front burner of my wacky life – but there it is, in the background, my concern that the book will never taste printer’s ink. Dripping. Chipping away at the enamel covering the iron sink.
All of this has left me wondering which way to go, “career”-wise. I have only recently begun to connect with the idea that I’m a writer. As in, a Real Writer. For some reason, all the writing for publication I’ve done for the last couple of decades, not to mention all the writing students I’ve mentored, has never seemed to qualify me as a Real Writer in my mind. I’m not sure what kind of writer I thought I was – but I was pretty sure I wasn’t really a Writer. I was almost a Writer, but hadn’t quite arrived yet.
Writing three books in three years, which was a little like having three babies in three years (which I also did), cured that almost-itis for me. Even though I spent too much of those three years in my pajamas, living in my head and drinking room-temperature coffee, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. I was immersed in the Word of God, in research, and in reaching for words in places I’d never have gone otherwise. I love that life. I am a Real Writer.
But now I find myself at quite the crossroads. After a necessary hiatus from hard-core writing, I am here, no book contract, no prospects save a handful of freelance prospects – a good thing, and I’m grateful for them, but… – and a single question.
“Lord, what’s next?”
Is this even the right question to be asking? Have you ever been here, perhaps not with writing, but with _____[fill in the blank with the identity of your own existential crisis]?
If so, I’d sure love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d rather keep your own crisis past or present off the comments here in blogland.