This site is still active. I’m as surprised as anyone.
I don’t advocate taking two-year breaks, but there is one remarkable benefit of doing that: seeing tangible progress. Writing, especially novel-length stuff, is a glacial process. The industry, until recently, helped make it so: come up with an idea, draft, draft, draft, revise, revise, revise, proof, seek readers . . . (I’m stopping because you know the steps and listing them exhausts me). In the last two years, I’ve been writing and teaching and reading and watching. At any given time, it felt like nothing was happening. But after two years, I’ve actually finished a few things.
First, to update an earlier post, the Kindle experiment was a failure. I sold one copy, and I know who bought it (my credit card statement proves it). Still, it was worth doing, and, if I decide to move away from traditional publishing, I have a better idea of how to approach self-publishing.
Second, I got something published by a real-life magazine. I even won an award (the “Editor’s Choice” award for Carve Magazine). There are two print copies on my shelf for the doubters. I won’t list how many things didn’t get published.
Third, I finished a novel. It’s about the fifth novel-length thing I’ve written, but it is the first one that actually feels like a novel, something that belongs in a bookstore because people should read it.
Fourth, I finally got fiction. Now this one takes some explaining, which I’ll do in future posts. But there was a point when I had my epiphany, my moment of clarity, when fiction made sense to me. In fact, I’ve found that I now gravitate toward fiction, almost always before non-fiction, and sometimes even before a movie.
Finally, there have been steps toward the “breakthrough,” including a greater sense of commitment to the craft and interest in the publishing process. In short, when I left off two years ago, I was a rambling person who wrote, someone still hoping to be discovered. But as I return, I almost feel like a writer, taking responsibility for his own craft and career.
Whatever that terrifying thing is—addiction, disease, curse, calling, blessing—that makes people write, it’s gotten hold of me. And the only cure (besides more cowbell) is writing. So, taking a break may have been horrible for establishing and maintaining an online presence, but it did wonders for marking real movement for a writer.