I’ve stopped writing fiction for about a year now. I want to start again; I am starting again. I’ve been thinking why I stopped and I what I want from the process.
Fundamentally, I got disillusioned by the publication rejection process. Who doesn’t, sometimes? There was one major turning point on this road. I’d felt I’d really nailed a particular story. It wasn’t accepted. I learned then that the force of rejection is proportional to the square of how great you think your story is. It’s about that gap between how good you think it is, and what the response is.
I’ve heard it said many time that you need to write fiction primarily for yourself, the writer. That’s never made a lot of sense to me, because I try to write for the audience. Now it does make sense. Writing for yourself is about why you write, not how. The how is about using words to communicate with your audience. After some time of focussing on the how, it becomes the why. What I mean is this: the response of your audience becomes your reason for writing, and that’s a very dangerous place to be.
So now the why is for me, the how is for you.
As I’ve started to write fiction again, I’m finding that the ideas don’t come as easily as they once did. Putting ideas into words still works well, because I never really stopped writing. In my work I’m always distilling my thoughts, arguments and concepts into reports, e-mails and graphs. But it’s always about something that’s happened, not something I’ve imagined. I know ideas are cheap, and they will come again.
I just need my imagination to feel free enough to dream again.