Dean Wesley Smith quoted from Ingrid Bergman on Monday, applying the thought to the writer’s mindset.
“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”
Smith encouraged writers to stop dwelling on things that have gone wrong — that is, develop a bad memory — and keep an eye on moving forward. I do spend a lot of my time lamenting unfinished projects and missed personal deadlines rather than my 18 books available in print-on-demand and my plans to produce many more. 18 is a good number.
I have written something professionally almost every day for 47 years as of later this month. I have had a middling career as a writer, and although I may not have written a lot of “what I want to write,” for a time measured in decades I have been assembling words into content, most of it disposable but some of it reaching for the ages.
Of course, like the driver who gives you the finger messes up your whole day even when everything else went fine, like many writers I find myself dwelling on the projects that are stalled or have never been completed rather than the 18 finished projects, 10 with my name as author and eight as the editor. I have five projects within shouting range of being ready for the printer, and for 641 days in a row, I have contributed something to this blog, which I am always mining for future projects.
I took inventory of my fiction projects Monday morning, because those are the projects that I spend the most time lamenting. (All five of the above-mentioned almost-completed projects are non-fiction.) The reason I did the review was not to despair again but to celebrate the progress I’ve managed over time.
What I found was that I have written more than 50,000 words for four of my novels, with at least a dozen more in various stages of “pre-production.” If a novel is at least 40,000 words, I’m more than halfway through one, more than a third of the way through another, and more than a quarter of the way through a third, with a cache of ideas about where to go next after these are completed.
The downside: It’s been three months since I worked on any of my novels-in-progress. That’s very discouraging. But I’m encouraged that for all my whining about wanting to be a book author and a novelist, I actually am one, have been one for some time, and am in the process of authoring several more.
Now, of course, I haven’t sold enough books to make a living at it yet. That’s a whine for another day.