07 May 2013

The scope of the collection

I've been thinking a lot lately about the role the collection has (and has had) in my writing career.

  • The bulk of my non-work writing files are notes, research and background work for the collection.
  • It was the coffee house book which introduced me to the publishing process because it was the first work I considered publishing.
  • It was the development of the collection that led me to realize that my dream-of-all-dreams is to be able to write the collection full-time.
  • And it is the collection that is the focus of my non-work writing.

It's important. And I feel like the collection, as a whole, is important for me to share. These characters needs their stories told.

The problem--if you want to call it a problem--is that because of the nature of the collection, and what it means to my writing career, I could very likely be working on it for the next 10+ years (depending on how many titles I end up with in the end). And I've already devoted almost ten years to the coffee house book (I began the first ramblings of the first draft in November 2004).

This might be what I do. The collection might very well be my writing career. So I've had to ask myself if it's important enough to me to spend the next ten years on it.

It is. At least, I think so. I believe so.

There are some stories that need to be told in certain ways. The collection is one of those stories. If I compromise the way I'm telling the story in order to write it faster, I know I'd be doing it a disservice. Yes, it's going to be hard to write, especially for some of the later books in the collection, but it will be worth it. So I'll keep working on it, and let the collection become even more of who I am as a writer.

But what about you? What if the book/play/collection of poetry you're working on right now became your defining work? Would it be worth it to you? Is whatever you're working on worth telling?

I'm not trying to imply that if you don't think something is worth defining your career by that you shouldn't write it. But I do think it's important for writers to carefully examine how they spend their writing time. I don't know about you, but between my day job and my munchkins, my fiction-writing time is limited. And I don't want to look back years from now and feel like I've wasted precious time working on something that doesn't matter or shouldn't have been written.

I'm sure that the collection is worth the time and energy I'm putting into it. Can you say the same about your work?

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