In my earlier article, I tapdanced around an idea that I think I can now put into a few succinct words. I treat my writing career the way I do because I don't want it to become a "hustle".
It took this article to help me frame that properly. My writing is a hobby -- a very structured and disciplined one, one that I take great pride and care in, but ultimately that's what it is. It is not an attempt to make a living, or even make a name for myself. I already have those things. And I currently have them in a form that is far more manageable to me than would be a career writing fiction.
There's no reason for me to turn something I do because I enjoy it into something I do because I want to hustle it out there. The last thing I want to do is take something that feels like my greatest way to make sense of the world and poison it.
I don't think I've ever written a book because I thought it would make me rich or famous or get patted on the head. Okay, I lied. Charisma started as a story about a geisha and her dog (no, really) that I decided to do as a lark for my friends, but it's turned into something far beyond that. And I think any of those people with a kernel of wisdom to rattle around will understand my motives are about pleasing myself first and not others. Given what a tough cookie I am to please in the first place, that's not a trivial exercise.
I have had to be conscious of how my instinct to please myself first can't become a defense of poor workmanship. In my mind I'd like to be able to take anything I produce, slap it on the shelf next to any other book in roughly the same category, and not feel like I can't hold my own. "I'm making this for me" is not the same thing as "I'm making this for no discernible audience at all". The first is about having pride in the work and caring about its design; the second is about contempt for others. At the end of the day, I want something that has the same professionalism and attention to completeness as anything else out there, except that it's mine.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind