Last October I had a dream. In the midst of the final countdown to the wedding that I’d spent almost a year planning down to the minutia, I had a dream about a story. The dream was so vivid and fun that I decided to pursue it despite my hectic schedule. I could make it into a story. The characters and basic plot unfolded quickly. It seemed like this muse that I keep hearing so much about finally found its way back to me.
I say it found its way back to me because I vaguely remember its presence. In high school it seemed, in fact, always to be at my disposal. The spark of an idea was not fleeting but a cacophony of sight and sound like a New Year’s Eve fireworks display: loud and brilliant and not easily ignored. And that was exciting. I remember the excitement of starting a new project was enough to carry me through the entire thing. Granted the projects were much smaller and there were fewer critical eyes skimming across it, but there was a naivete that I wish I still had. There was a sincere belief that what I was working on could turn into something great even if no one other than my mom ever read it. Often times, I would finish feeling pretty satisfied with my attempts and excited to share them with my limited audience.
Do these good feelings ever come back? Are they used up in our youth or are they whittled down by every critique in workshop? By the critic in our own heads? Writing is and should be a pleasure in itself, but I often find myself too preoccupied with the end result.
I’d like to know. How do you feel about your art these days? How do you keep yourself focused on the joy of writing rather than the bottom line?