As many of you know, since I’ve posted blogs on my other site as D.T. Dyllin, the last couple of years have been … rough. Between having to adjust to Hashimoto’s, trying to cope with the suicide of my best guy friend, and the sudden death of my German Shepherd Kira, I’ve been, let’s just say, not exactly focused on my writing.
But you know that old adage that says something about it always being the darkest before the dawn? Well, I thought about giving up writing more times than I could count. It didn’t seem to hold the same kind of joy it once did. I wanted to connect creatively like I used to, but I was numb. I simply stopped caring. I didn’t see the point in continuing, especially with the state of the publishing industry.
I wrote nothing new from October 2018 until January 2019. And I did a super soft release of Gentlemen Prefer Unicorns by D.T. Dyllin. I didn’t promote that title at all, and I didn’t mention it on any of my social media sites. I associated writing that book with too many unpleasant things, and I just wanted to forget about it and move on. Done. That’s exactly what I did.
I told myself I just needed time to start writing again, and I allowed myself to have it. So when January 2019 rolled around, I forced myself back into my writing chair, and began writing Nightmare Thief. It did not go well. I adhered to my schedule, but there was no joy in it. I halted the process when I got about 20,000 words in. I simply wasn’t feeling it, and if I wasn’t feeling it then my readers definitely wouldn’t either.
I gave up. I all but officially quit writing at that point. It was time to move onto to something else. It was fun while it lasted, but all good things eventually come to an end … blabbity-blah-blah. I said it all, and I believed it. I was relieved. No more self-induced pressure. No deadlines. This was going to be a good thing. I focused on training my new puppy, and getting back into cardiovascular shape. Also decorating. Basically, everything … anything else.
Then it happened. I was in the shower one day, and an idea for a new book gently wound itself through my brain. But I refused. I was done writing. If I ignored it then it would fade away. (I bet you already guessed where this story is going.) It didn’t go away. I started having dreams about this idea. Everything reminded me of it, and I simply couldn’t ignore it like I’d planned. I decided to start the book. Surely, once I began writing the feelings of urgency to write it would dry up.
The feelings of urgency completely went away.
But then I discovered something wonderful: The art of taking my time.
You see, I’d never done it before, taken my time, that is. My first book, Hidden Gates by D.T. Dyllin, was created in a kind of frenzy. I wrote the entire thing out by hand in about thirty days. I didn’t have a laptop back then, so I worked with what I had. Twenty four books later under the name D.T. Dyllin, and all of them were written in the same manner … with a single-minded focus that bordered on insanity. Maybe I was a little crazy then. Or maybe I just didn’t know any other way.
I’m currently working on a standalone novel by Dara Kent–the first under that name. And I have my joy back. Yep, somewhere between quitting and losing that weird frenzy, I found my writing again. The thing is, I’m not sure how long it will take me to write this book. A few months? A year? I don’t care anymore. When I gave up, it was like losing a part of myself, and then I realized who I truly write for: Me. Yes, of course, I want readers to enjoy my work, but if they don’t, oh well, at least I had fun during the creative process.
Taking my time offers me a different kind of joy–the kind of joy in luxuriating in the creative process. And it made me wonder … When did pumping out novels become imperative? When did mass output become more important than enjoying one’s craft? When did creating under a sort of desperation become the norm? Like if you don’t do it a certain way then you’re not a “real” writer?
As I look around at my fellow authors, I can’t help but notice that so many of us have lost “the joy”. If this is the case, then maybe it’s time to ask: Why did you start writing to begin with? My guess, for the majority, is that you loved books. You loved them so much that you decided to create your own. Don’t let things like writing speed or anything else bog you down. So what if it’s taken you five years to write the first half of your book. Just keep going. Let your love of literature guide you. There’s room for all of us and all of our unique styles in the publishing world. Just don’t forget to enjoy yourself along the journey. And if you lose your way for a time, the way I did, find your way naturally, by letting time take it’s course. Because if you feel no joy for your writing, there really isn’t a point to doing any of it. Or as I like to say: The cake simply isn’t worth the bake.
Until next time …