Over the last week I’ve been listening to archives of Sara Zarr’s podcasts called This Creative Life. It’s one of those wonderful things that you discover after it’s been running for years and you wonder why no one has ever told you about it before.
Zarr interviews all kinds of creative people (with a heavy dose of writers) about their creative process, the roadblocks in their work, and how they manage the joys and challenges that come from being a creative professional.
This experience has stirred up mixed emotions. On one hand, I love being able to listen to these podcasts during the slow moments of my non-writing job. It keeps me thinking about my work and makes me feel like a writer even when I can’t physically be typing/scribbling away. I also like that many of her guests have “day jobs” and talk about how to fit the writing life in around them.
The tough part of these podcasts is how much angst I feel listening to these talented people talk about doing serious creative work that has found an audience. I’ve received two particularly tough rejections in the last month (tough because in both cases there had been some actual hope). As a result I’ve allowed myself a few weeks to back off the submissions roller coaster and focus on writing my current novel. But there’s a little part of my brain, that annoying practical side, that reminds me if I don’t submit, no one is ever going to read my work.
I tell people I’m a writer because I am. I’ve finished three novels, a dissertation, over 100 poems, and over the years in my other work life I have been paid to write blog posts and act as an editorial assistant. But there’s still some disappointment and envy for the pieces I don’t have yet.
I know that the writing life I have now is a blessing – I have time, the basic resources, and at least some degree of skill for which I’m extremely grateful. I also know that even once someone is published there’s still plenty of opportunities for angst and envy. But I have to admit if I’m being honest about my experience right now –
I want more.
However, until then I’ll just keep writing – and being thankful for people like Sara Zarr and her guests who remind me about what I want, and why I’m doing this.