I haven't written much of anything since January. I'm thinking about one story that I promised, and another promised story is looming in the back of my mind, but I'm not actively working on it. Also, I have a novel on submission that I have to act on sometime in the near future, but for now, I'm content to let everything hang out there in a suspended state.
Not writing used to worry me. If I were a professional writer, I'd be frantic about now. Five months without any real output would be disastrous. But I'm not a professional, and by now, I've had so many of these dry spells that I can't work myself into too big of a fret over them. It's part of my natural rhythm. At least, that's what I tell myself.
Every writer has a personal definition of success: making the New York Times bestseller's list, a movie deal, critical acclaim, being published, or even simply self-satisfaction. I love being published. The thrill of acceptance never gets old. I'd love to see a stranger holding my book at the airport or on a bus (although in this e-reader world, no one sees what you're reading). But it's never been my absolute goal. So I don't feel much pressure to create a bestseller. (Not that I'd complain. I'm not artsy-fartsy enough to look down on commercial success.)
The only real pressure I feel is from my little slice of vanity, my weird idea of success, and that's to create a world so engrossing that a reader feels sad when the story ends. That's how I feel when I've read a story I've enjoyed. When the characters remain with me and I think about the ideas days or even years later, that, to me, is a great book. The prose doesn’t have to be beautiful in a literary sense. The tale doesn't even have to be high-minded. I just like a truly ripping yarn, and I like that lingering sense of loss after the final page. Weird? Yes. And even weirder that I want to make other people feel that way. In my most self-deprecating hours, I doubt that I'll ever get there. I want it though, that power of transportation, so I pressure on myself to try to deliver it, even though I may never know if I reach that goal.