Last night, I dreamed of Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. The couple sat in my kitchen (not my actual kitchen, nor did I recognize the scenery outside the windows), and Kevin told me that I must give up my Christianity, and any potential return to Church involvement, if I wished to make it as a published writer. Instantly I began to argue with him, this great man who has published over one hundred books. I explained to him how my Faith was important to me, how it informed my work and my worldview, and how it didn’t clash with my ability to write. Only when I woke did it occur to me that Mr. Anderson, that most prolific of successful authors, had given me advice, and I hadn’t even bothered to consider it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t often dream of Kevin and his wife. Nor do I believe, even if we lived in the area, that he and I would find we have much in common. I’m not even suggesting that Kevin would offer me that particular piece of advice. The fact is that my life right now is rather solitary, and I’ve been musing for some time on a potential return to some type of Church involvement. This time it would be different, a part of me argues. I would manage my time better: I would limit my participation in various events and activities. At least I’d have people to chat with every once in a while, even if I had little in common with them, and consequently they didn’t mean that much to me (or me to them).
Earlier this week, I found myself deeply touched by Steven Brust’s progress report on his latest novel, Hawk. This favorite author of mine has been going through a difficult period, not only from ongoing dental issues (a continuing source of great pain and expense), and medical issues that have necessitated an operation this week. As if this weren’t enough, he’s had to deal with some “dramas” in his friends’ lives, and right now his sister is also in the hospital. Yet, amid so many worries, and so much pain and turmoil, he’s continued to wrestle with a novel that seems to defy him at every turn.
This reminded me of something Piers Anthony wrote long ago, which sent me off to my bookshelf. In his Author’s Note for his 1983 novel On A Pale Horse, he writes about how his father-in-law’s long period of suffering eventually landed him in the hospital, where it was finally determined he needed abdominal surgery. The man’s prospects were 50/50, but he pulled through, was allowed to go home, and gradually recovered. Unfortunately, Piers’ mother-in-law, who had been worn out by all this, got sick and went into the hospital, where she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Six weeks later, she passed away. A few months after this, terrible pain descended on Piers, and he had to go into the hospital. Although it turned out to be nothing worse than a kidney stone, still this derailed his life for a few days, and disturbed his normal functioning for some time. Yet, during all this, he kept writing On A Pale Horse (a novel about Death personified), as well as other novels. He published three books a year during this period, and his books frequently appeared on the bestseller lists.
I enjoyed rereading his generous sixteen-page update on his life. He interjected, at several points, that he had needed to break off writing it to perform normal duties on his backwoods home in Florida. His family kept horses, he chopped wood to feed his old-fashioned stove, answered fan mail each day, dealt with his agent and his publishers, and faced numerous other distractions. Yet despite all that he dealt with during that year, both normal and abnormal, he kept writing, submitting, and publishing.
To my chagrin, I have not dealt with all that life has thrown at me nearly so successfully. I’ve allowed things like Church involvement, family dramas, and illnesses to sidetrack and derail my writing efforts. I don’t think last night’s dream was trying to tell me literally what I needed to do, but I think my subconscious was reminding me to keep my life simple right now. Even if it’s a solitary existence, I know I cannot deal with distractions nearly as well as Kevin, Steven, and Piers. That’s why they’re my writing heroes, and I’m an unpublished nobody. Well, that’s okay, at least for now. I’m not terribly concerned about having lots of friends. I don’t hunger to be a riot at parties. I just want to finish my novels, submit them, and start down the road to publication. Keep staring at the goal ahead, and keep walking toward it everyday. Perhaps, when I start publishing on a regular basis, I can look around, and involve myself in other pursuits and activities. If not, if I have to continue to place all other aspects of my life on hold to maintain my focus, well, at least I’ll have achieved my major goal in life. At the end of the day, that’s what we should be spending our lives doing, isn’t it?
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