Why I Have Failed To Write a Word in 2014

By Aaron Michael Ritchey

Aaron_Michael_RitcheyI am the problem.

Not the clock. Not the industry. Not my critique group. Not my readers. Not even my stalker fans. Wait, I don’t have stalker fans. Dang.

No, I am the problem. When I don’t write, I am the problem?

First of all, I forget so easily most everything good about the writing life. I only focus on the difficulties. I know I suck, the criticisms sting, the despair drowns me, the disappointment destroys, the rejection! Rejection. Rejection. Eloi, Eloi! Lama sabachthani!

So far in 2014, I have not written a single word of fiction and for me that is a long time because I’m a daily writer. If I don’t write daily, I fall out of the habit, and getting back into the habit takes blood, my dearies, lots of blood. And I know I have to do some writing soon because I have a new book coming out in 2014, and I have several mewling projects that need my attention.

But I’ve been so busy.

Again, I am the problem. One of my favorite excuses not to write is time. Oh, I’m so busy. I have so much going on. How can I fit it all in?

That is me lying to myself, which I love to do. My friend says he wastes his life in ten minutes increments looking at drivel on the internet. Add up those ten minute increments? Six of them gives you an hour? Do you know what you can do in an hour? I can type a thousand words, easy. I can edit ten pages. I can outline a book. One hour is a long time. How else would I want to spend any free hour I have? Doing something that gives my life meaning? Or looking at kitty pictures on Facebook? Though I do like me a good kitten pic, I’ll tell ya what.

We all have the same twenty-four hours. People can do some amazing stuff with their minutes, and why not me? It’s all about priorities and scheduling. Normally, I schedule in what’s important first, and then let the rest of my day take shape. For years, I got up early to write. Getting up early is stealing time from God.

But now? I sleep in. I read. I watch T.V. I stare out the window into the darkness. I think Kafka-esque thoughts.

I am the problem. What really gets me is the self-doubt. Stephen King said that self-doubt kills both books and writers. This is me, raising my hand.

Ritchey_LLTSK_Cover for ARCI have the notion that I will never succeed, that I will remain stalkerless, that I know exactly how my writing career is going to look, and it doesn’t include huge contracts, adoring fans, and mimosas. I assume that whatever I write won’t sell, that I’ll die nameless, and this entire endeavor will be a monumental waste of time. I might as well embrace the obesity epidemic, turn on the T.V., permanently, and just huddle up in my cocoon of Dr. Who and chili-flavored Fritos and wait for heart disease and diabetes to come and get busy on my ass.

Every day in 2014 that is how I’ve woken up. What am I doing writing books? Why am I even trying? What kind of an idiot am I?

Then I think about my next book, Long Live the Suicide King. It’s a story about a seventeen-year-old kid who quits doing drugs and gets suicidal, but the more suicidal he gets, the more interesting his life becomes. It’s a story about hope. About meaning. It’s darkly funny, reads fast, and has some definite crime novel aspects to it. It’s a project I adore, and it truly is an Aaron Michael Ritchey novel.

It was a book I was born to bring into the world.

In 2014, I’ve forgotten why I write, so I haven’t been motivated to get up at the buttcrack of dawn to work. It’s our “whys” that drive us. We all write for different reasons. For me, writing is an act of supreme courage. When I write, it’s me spitting in the face of death and despair. When I don’t write, it’s the other way around. Yeah, lugies in the eye.

The hero in my new book is certain he knows how his life will turn out, which is one of the reason he wants to die. But he’s foolish. In the end, none of know what the future holds. Lots of writers commit suicide certain they were kidding themselves about their talent, the power of their story, the righteousness of their cause. I don’t want to be another dead writer.

While I’m alive, I will write. I can blame the clock, the industry, my childhood of neglect and afternoon sitcoms, but the reality is, I have the power, I make the choice.

And today, I choose to pursue this impossible, frustrating, windmill of a dream. I think I’ll go and write a little fiction right now.

I’m doing a little giveaway for both the hopeless and the hopeful. If you’d like to win a one-of-kind Advanced Reader Copy of Long Live the Suicide King, leave a comment about why you write. What keeps you going?

Comments left on this post through Friday midnight Mountain Time will be considered. The winner will be announced on the blog on Saturday. This giveaway is for U.S. residents only.

Thanks all!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aaron Michael Ritchey’s first novel, The Never Prayer, was published in March of 2012 to a fanfare of sparkling reviews including an almost win in the RMFW Gold contest. Since then he’s been paid to write steampunk, cyberpunk, and sci-fi western short stories, two of which will appear in a new fiction magazine, Fiction Vale. His next novel, Long Live the Suicide King, will give hope to the masses in April of 2014. As a former story addict and television connoisseur, he lives in Colorado with his wife and two goddesses posing as his daughters.

For more about Aaron, his books, and how to overcome artistic angst, visit his website. He’s on Facebook as Aaron Michael Ritchey and he tweets as @aaronmritchey.

22 thoughts on “Why I Have Failed To Write a Word in 2014

  1. Julie Luek

    Oh this was good. For me fear and all the self-doubt therein kills my writing. I have ideas, good ideas, swarming in my head, but as soon as I get them down on paper, their greatness diminishes to a dull mess. Of course, that is the work of writing– to give them polish. Write daily. Yes. Thanks for the kick I needed.

    Reply
  2. Zombie Joe

    What keeps me going? Posts like this… Knowing there are others out there going through the same mess I am. Knowing I have a review due Friday, Game Night on Sunday, my day job every weekday, and STILL have writing and editing to do. It can be daunting, tiring, and depressing. And I know that I’m not the only one.

    Reply
  3. Quincy J Allen

    (insert Clintonesque vocalization here) I feel your pain.

    Last night, while my better half went to bed early, I stayed up and wrote for the first time since the beginning of the year. I’m woefully behind on damn near everything and have been struggling with the same doubts you expressed above. For me it’s not just getting back to the discipline, it’s that I overcommitted in a few areas. It’s funny and sad and tragic and terrifying when you’re at the head of your mid-life slide into those dreadful/wonderful golden years and staring down the barrel of HOPING a novel takes off. It’s like a slow-as-molasses version of Russian Roulette.

    We’re mad… all of us writers… yet we can but try. Yes?

    So let us commiserate. Let us support in mind and spirit, if not body and book sales. It is as Hunter S. Thompson said. We’re the doomed. We’re helpless. Hopeless. We’re somebody else’s lunch. We’re doomed. And the only ones who can save us are ourselves. The beauty about being a fiction writer is that we get to make our own heroes… our own endings. Our heroes are doomed over and over again… and by our own hands. Yet they come out the other side, chewing their way through concrete and steel. They brush the dust and debris off their clothing and go take on the next disaster like it was getting a cup of coffee.

    Let us take our lead from those heroes we engender and start chewing concrete and spitting gravel.

    Reply
  4. MB

    Why do I write? To purge my soul. What keeps me going? It’s like being in labor to deliver a child–it might hurt to go on, but it hurts so much more to try and stop. I write because I’m totally seduced by the fantasy of other people reading my words and being somehow changed. I keep going because the alternative is laundry and a dirty kitchen floor.
    mb

    Reply
  5. Patricia Stoltey

    Aaron, you speak to so many of us with this post. We do tend to be our own worst enemies when it comes to writing.

    Reply
  6. Yolanda Renee

    I write because it makes me whole! Wonderful, thoughtful post and describes the life, my life almost to a T – love it, hate it, DO IT!

    Reply
  7. Lexi Butler

    I write because the stories in my brain will drive me mad if I don’t get them out and make room for other things. Also, every time I reread a classic, whose words that have lived on through centuries, I dream of my words living like that. Or, one of my author friends words living like that.

    Reply
  8. Julie Kazimer

    As always, great post, lots to think about but I think I’d rather waste an hour on the internet. Congrats on the new release. Can’t wait to read it.

    Reply
  9. Dean K Miller

    Slow reader…an hour wasted? No wait, not wasted…but hour is gone. Why I write? Because it happens. After an hour on the river fly fishing, my heart/mind finally got along and words began appearing in my brain/thoughts. Now I get to write them for the future. I write because I can, because I want to, because others won’t. It’s either writing, or non-stop nachos and beer, which won’t last nearly as long as writing.

    Reply
  10. Lisa Snider

    I write because I suck a lot more at everything else. Seriously. I even tried guitar once. My hand swelled up like a balloon. Plus, I’m tone deaf. Hey, that would make a good story.

    Reply
  11. Giles Hash

    I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there off and on since the conference. I finished a project, I took on several responsibilities that wore me out, both at home and at my day job, and then I fell into the pattern of excuses.

    I’m excited for you book! Keep ‘em coming.

    Reply
  12. Amanda Helms

    Awesome post, Aaron! I’m still dealing with reentry shock as I try to get going on a new project (which is actually a revision of an old one). Much-needed kick.

    I write because every time I read a book that makes me feel joy or sadness or anger or satisfaction, every time I read a book that reminds me of the beauty and the awfulness of being human, I want to make others feel that, too.

    What keeps me going? I know what I’m like when I “let myself” not write for too long, and it’s better for myself and everyone around me if I keep writing. And because if I don’t write, I can’t touch people in the way I want.

    Reply
  13. Steve J

    I write (code) to pay the bills. I write (code) because it triggers my dopamine cycle. I write (code) so I don’t have to talk to people. I write (code) because it’s the only thing I’m really good at.

    Reply
  14. Kathleen O'Donnell

    I write because I can do it lying down and in my pajamas. Oh…and sometimes I have a reasonably kick ass story to tell. I love the writing. It’s the self promotion I hate. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +…I think I’ll call my next novel Love Live the Self Promoting Asshole Suicide King.

    Reply
  15. Andrea Stein

    Hate to tell you this, but your evil twin, Skippy is writing some Kick–ss stuff. Maybe he does it by burning the midnight oil? I write simply cause I can’t stop.

    Reply
  16. Aaron Ritchey

    Thanks for the comments. And yes, writing will last longer than nonstop nachos and beer. Thanks Dean. Steve J, you are awesome at coding and yes, the dopamine. Andrea, I hate that Skippy guy. He steals all the good lines. Amanda, another quotable comment. “The beauty and the awfulness of being human.” And Kathleen O. For me, at every step of the game, the journey of writing books has asked me to do more than I am capable of doing, to be more than I am. At first it was getting into the rhythm of writing, the sacrifice of it, and then when I got my first book published, it was the online social media stuff that scared the hole bejesus out of me. I couldn’t do it. I had to get help. My day job is IT stuff, but I was too afraid to get a Facebook account, I had to pay someone to do it for me. All of this terrifies me day after day after day. And yet, my job is to walk through the fear or else suffocate in it. I’m not going to die today. I’m not going to give up. I will do the things that scare me. For today. Thanks all!

    Reply
  17. John Paul McKinney

    I write because I’m incredibly good at it and my friends (both of them) are dying to read what I have to say.

    Reply
  18. Jamie Judson

    I write because language is amazing. It can be folded and molded and dissected and made to do our bidding. And when done just right, beautiful poetry and prose emerges.

    Reply
  19. Jaxine Daniels

    I blame the Broncos, Aaron. I am stuck in research Purgatory. Dan says I need to start writing. I say I don’t have all the facts I need. I have worked a bit on the new website for the project. But haven’t written any fiction either. I shall blame the Broncos. Amen

    Reply
  20. Sheri Duff Merz

    Great. Now I’m a problem too. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to write. I think it was that nano thing. And I think you have many stalkers.

    Reply

Leave a Reply