To get to know anyone, ask about their childhood because all of a person's neuroses and ticks will invariably come from some aspect of their youth. Obvious, I know, but still important to state.
I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn't prepared for the step after being published. I should clarify that.
After the reality of the publishing world becomes known, a writer faces a choice - should I make a go of it? Or is there something about the risk associated with becoming a writer which is too steep to overcome?
(Some of you may have already caught the error in the above questions - namely that there's not a binary option available to writers at that point. The options are up to the writer to determine. But that's not the main point of this post. )
I didn't have a very secure childhood. Divorce and depression had affected my parents substantially but to different degrees. They provided food and shelter to their kids, but at some points, only just. Living for a few weeks without power in the backwoods of Western Pennsylvania wasn't optimal, but transitory. Going to school in clothes chock full of holes and shoes that were falling part, less so.
Did that affect me in adulthood? Absolutely. When given the option to:
A. Pursue a writing career that would require a fair amount of effort to both get better at my craft, and learn and leverage the business surrounding it, but for low wages.
B. Keep my well-paying engineering gig, but put up with varying degrees of politics, business competencies, and fulfilling other people's vision. The odds of remaining there was great (and still is, if I'm honest. I'm still at the job).
When push came to shove, I chose B. I didn't just choose it, I committed to it. And that's when my interest in writing as a career waned, and my productivity nearly zeroed out.
I'm not just writing it that way for effect, but to specifically call it out. It was a mistake. And I made it for the name of security. There are other variables at play here, but all trace back to the desire to ensure food and shelter. Yes, I was aware of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I ignored it. The need to ensure stability was so prevalent that I stopped doing something I enjoyed doing.
Not surprisingly, I'm not happy. If pressed, I'll cop to being content, at least on my better days. But for the most part, yeah, I haven't been happy with the results. The depression that I thought I had left behind me showed up on my doorstep, and me, like an idiot, welcomed it right in.
So the challenge is now to get back to the point of "happy". But for that to happen, I needed to do some honest assessments. Those assessments resulted in some interesting insights. I will be sharing these with you in the next few weeks and months as I implement some solutions that I have discovered.
The first? Professional writing isn't a binary choice. As with nearly everything else, there are degrees of one's engagement to both the craft and business. We, of free will and drive, have the ability to determine which degree works best for us.