Back when I wrote for a living, I'd set arbitrary goals.
One was 3500 to 5000 words per day. Didn't matter if I threw it away, with no outcomes, I reached that each day. The other was 5 publications per month. 3 Paying (easy) and two for fun (non-paying, harder.)
So I did that, knowing that all goals are arbitrary. It's why video games are fun, and why no one gets 1 point for discovery or a kill - you have to drop some zeros in there for the game to work. 1000 points. 10,000. Now we're having real fun!
So I did it with snark, sarcasm, irony, and dropping lines that would make any human cringe. This was the 1990s after all. If you could pull that off, you could get published. Five a month, bills paid.
And yet every now and then - never admitted this - someone would cut me at the knees. Whether writing raunch, sci fi, mainstream, or Christian ... once or twice a year a story would appear alongside mine that was really, really good.
Like ... instead of showing ugliness and laughing about it (as mine would do) made the world hopeful and beautiful in words. That really cut to the struggle and gave hope with meaning.
And I'd be in awe.
Those were the days I wrote no words.
My happiest moment as a writer in some ways was going to the store and seeing two of my works in print. Both at the check out line at the local supermarket. One in a paperback anthology of "fantastic literature" and the other in a "tabloid." It wasn't about pay or popularity. I felt I had infiltrated the culture at two unlikely ends. Call it "viral."
No one would have guessed - no one will ever guess - that both were mine. A pissy, confused, weird kid from a small town on the great lakes. But there they were. If we had mobile then, I would have captured it. It'd be on Instagram. The memory is better.
I wonder if I can write the stuff that cut me at the knees. That made me take a day off. That inspires without platitude. Can I be honest without being a dick. I think I know what a lot of people are seeking right now. Maybe I have a story that tells it. Easy on judgment and conclusions, a little bit stronger than my one-liners.
Because I'm 48, and being a writer who now waits 3 days for permission to make a Facebook post is all the irony I need to kick me in the ass back into writing.