I’m working through the fourth draft of my latest novel, Flood, and have been leaning into the process, doing my best to not worry about the final product and timelines.
It’s hard work.
But it’s also good, gratifying work. The way I figure, we only have the time before us. The time that’s most enjoyable is the time actually doing the work. Sure I like to imagine what commercial and critical success looks like, but if that’s the only thing I’m after, what about all the time spent (13 years and counting)?
If I never publish a novel will it all have been for naught?
Will I have wasted my time?
That was a question I didn’t ask myself when I was younger and my life was stretching ahead of me. But as I’ve put some decades behind me–five and change so far–I’ve become more conscious of how finite my time is. And so the question of using time wisely is often in the forefront of my mind.
But I’ve also become more conscious of how the time we’re in, the present, is the only time we have. And thus, there’s no reason to be in a rush.
So when my mind starts questioning the value of my writing, my toiling in unpublished anonymity, I ask myself, “Is the writing enjoyable? Is the challenge still there? Do you still get a thrill seeing things come together?” Samuel Delany points to the German word “Begeisterung”, literally defined as “bespiritedness”, to capture the kind of enthusiasm creatives bring to their work.
Begeisterung is a tonic for all my doubt, all these questions, so much so that when I find myself revisiting them yet again, my answer is invariably “yes,” which is reason enough to keep writing.