Earlier this week, I wrote a 4700-word short story.
If one calls oneself a writer, or tries to think of oneself as a writer, one expects oneself to actually write.
The short story this week is the first piece of fiction I've managed to complete in five friggin' years!
I've done fragments of stories during those five years, but never managed to complete any of them.
I've never been a prolific writer. I started making serious attempts at writing and selling fiction in 1980, and usually only managed to write a couple of stories (occasionally more) in any given year. About eight or nine of those stories were eventually sold and published.
So what happened in 1999? What changed?
Part of it, I think, but only part, was that in 1999 my wife and I began a long stretch of dealing with major (in Hilde's case, life-threatening) medical problems. That added a lot of stress, and took away a lot of free time and energy. (Thankfully, they've pretty much resolved themselves in the last year.)
But I also think that I underwent a "loss of faith" in my own abilities as a writer. When you envision a story in your head, there's a mental ideal of how you want it to move, how you want it to affect and engage the reader... and the fragments I started weren't, by any measure, reaching that ideal.
(The fragments I was turning out were, essentially, slush-pile fiction. Slush-piles are notorious for the truly, truly bad and awful writing found in them, but when you actually go through a slushpile [I have], the most depressing thing isn't that a small fraction of the submissions are godawful, but that a HUGE proportion of the submissions are... "adequate", "okay", "decent". They have plot, and character, and setting . . . and none of it comes to life, none of it ever becomes more than words on a piece of paper.)
So it's been a relief, a HUGE relief, to finally have this long spell of literary impotence come to an end. (I was about ready to burn my SFWA membership card.) I hope this is a forebearer of more to come.
(And it's even a pretty darn good story!)