I buy a lot of books through the Kindle app, where they are promptly downloaded and forgotten. I would read more in bed, but there is the boogeyman idea out there that doing so will corrupt your sleep. So the books live there collecting digital dust until I get the nerve to delete certain attention-sucking apps from my phone.

Then, by design, I find myself starved for a good read. Sometimes your thumbs get tired of the endless scroll.

Richard Russo’s The Destiny Theif is one of those reads that was nearly forgotten to the digital archives. In the opening essay, he recollects the early days of his writing career, where he was torn between research tenure, and the drive to write fiction. Torn even still between the story that he thought was pretty good, and the critique that he needed to go in a different direction and write down what needed to be said.

The story he had been trying to distance himself from would eventually become Empire Falls, which HBO would adapt into a mini-series. It may not have been the story he wanted to tell, but it’s one that so many wanted to read.

It is this unfortunate divide that drives a lot of creative folks out of the practice. The split between one’s work not looking how everything else looks, or the drive to preserve some kind of artistic integrity and not selling out to “the man.” When one or the other comes sharply into focus the drive to create just stops.

Destiny is forged in moments like these. Curiosity and discovery in Manichaean balance with despair and self-loathing. Writing, like life itself, is difficult. Many truly talented people give up every day.

Between the work that I punch out for my own behalf, and the work that I compile for clients, there is always the question of “Is this what the audience actually wants?” There is always the analytics working against me and the clients want more of the same. Or they’ll want more granular, individualized content for each segment of their consumer base – hoping a guided tour will be what sells their audience on their brand without once thinking how bestselling books and movies do just fine by casting a wide, sturdy net that catches everything.

Trust your gut.

Or trust your reader.

Or find new readers.

Writing would be great if it weren’t the only thing I knew how to do.

I publish as much as I can, you’ll just have to wait for the rest.

 

Writing would be great if it weren’t the only thing I knew how to do.

I publish as much as I can, you’ll just have to wait for the rest.