I wrote this post about two weeks ago, but didn’t publish it because I thought it may come off as…I don’t know…self serving, obnoxious, something bad. But then last night I saw this blog on why it’s okay to want as long as you do something about it (she gets to the point about halfway through the post) and I figured I may as well put my honest feelings out there. Here goes nothin’…
I had one of those ah-ha moments this morning: I realized that I’m hungry to be a professional author. I always thought that phrase, “hungry,” was silly, especially when applied to the business world. It conjured up images of corporate executives on the rise who stabbed each other in the back on their way to the top. But now that I’ve experienced true artistic hunger, I get it. It’s not about stepping on others; it’s about being your best and constantly striving to raise the bar.
For me, this hunger is a type of driving ambition, a compelling force that makes me take on more in order to establish a career doing the thing I love. I’ve always known that I want to write for a living and how much I love it, but this is something more. My word for 2014 was “bloom,” and I’m ready to burst forth.
I know the only way to guarantee success (as much as one can) is to write great books. I hope I’m doing that. I’m devoting every spare moment to research for this new project that I’m really passionate about. In the process, I discovered another historical figure that it doesn’t look like much has been written about (she’s from a slightly later period than the Celts). Now I’m planning to write her story next year, along with another contemporary story and possibly a Celtic historical fiction.
I’m also planning my conference schedule for 2015. (In case you were wondering: BEA in New York in May, the Historical Novel Society conference in Denver in June and possibly Sirens in Portland in October.) But I don’t just want to attend; I want to speak at these events, to share what I’ve learned with others. I want to get to know other authors and avid readers in person. I’m also considering applying for a two-week residency (the longest amount of vacation time I can get) at Hedgebrook (where I took classes with Deb Harkness earlier this year) for their 2015 or 2016. (Oh yeah, and I’m trying to save money to move to another city, but that’s a story for another day.)
In the midst of all this, I saw an announcement for a historical fiction book award. Obviously, I don’t qualify for that yet, but it’s on my dream list (with many others) for the future. I’ve always been award-happy (I blame it on the dance trophies when I was little), but it’s about more than pretty bauble or a fancy title; it’s about recognition by your peers. I want that. I want everything and I’m willing to work as hard as I have to in order to get it.
Yet, I know this hunger has a down side and I’m beginning to feel it. The danger in this is trying to do too much, especially too soon. So much of publishing is out of our hands as authors (as opposed to most of the writing part, save editing). All I can do right now is keep producing good work and believing things will break for me whenever they are supposed to. But in the meantime, I have to be careful to guard my health and not burn out. Thankfully, I have family and friends who are willing to tell me to take time off when I can’t see that I need it.
I’m not exactly sure why I felt that I should write about this. Maybe it was to share my experience, my joy in all the exhausting work I am doing. Maybe it’s to try to find others of like mind, to know I’m not alone in this obsessive need to write, to do more, to be more and better myself, even though very few people know who I am right now.
PS – You’re welcome for the Duran Duran earworm from the title of this post. 🙂
What are you hungry for? Have you ever had this experience? How did you handle it? How do you deal with your hunger?