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  • Writer's pictureNick Herrgott

the fictional bicycle

Updated: Mar 12

what's it like to get back into fiction after hiatus?

Who left this bicycle sitting around? And why?

Writing isn't really like riding a bike... only it is.

Kind of.

For most of my life, I've wanted to write for an audience and preferably eek out a reasonable living off of it. I don't need a whole lot of money to get by: I neither need a car, nor do I have the urge to own property. One day I might like to live in a multiple-income partnership, but surely not right now. But I also want a living that I don't need to retire from. What would I plan on doing with my life after I retire from my office job at 60?

Probably writing a novel. Why not just write while I'm younger so that way my 60-year-old self has some logged hours behind the wheel and I can actually write something meaningful?

In high-school, a friend of mine said: "When you're a writer, you want to look back on your old work and think that it sucks. If you don't think it sucks... it means you're not improving."

I know someone who started a number of creative pursuits when he retired. As much as I think there is something lacking from writers who start out too young... you need to go through the process of starting young to understand how to be comfortable with improvement. This person hasn't really had the time to write enough to look back on his life and think about how much his writing used to suck. And most importantly, that looking what you write and saying "this eats ass and not in the good way" is probably one of the most important parts of the creative process. So he's not really... open... to feedback. But he's happy doing what he's doing, so what can I say?

(He's very pleased to offer feedback, however.)

As for me, I can't read back something I wrote the day before without thinking of little ways to tweak it. I have some short stories that I wrote some years back. I recently sent them to a friend of mine for some feedback. He was very encouraging, while offering some very welcomed constructive criticism. Reading back my own work while he was giving me notes... I hadn't read this story since I first wrote it; honestly I don't think he was nearly hard enough on it.

There is an issue with coming out of creative hiatus.

For a long time, I just haven't had the ability to work on my prose, and so I'm worried that those parts of my brain have been left to atrophy. I spent a great deal of time over-working myself on some contract work, and I have concerns that my brain has been wried to deliver information rather than deliver a story. Especially that I published my first novel before said contract opened, how much of the brio that I had to complete the work of fiction has been lost?

After feeling like I've wasted so much time putting it on the back burner, I am worried that I'm going to waste even more time falling off the bike.

As I am trying to shift away from essay formats (perhaps only for now), I'd like to be vocal about my process for how I am re-learning the skills I once felt so fluidly. Even though, yes, like most authors, I spent many days pounding words onto the page and then spending my evenings locked in melancholy that I had wasted my day without contributing anything of value.

But I'd also like to share some of the neat little quirky skills I've picked up in the process of self-publishing my own book. And though that might make me a Jack of all trades, I have never met a Jack who has not mastered—at least—some. I find the best authors are those who have a myriad of hobbies and interests, and who understand the value of meditations that do not involve the written word. Most artistic endeavours have transferrable skills, and for trades that are not inherently artistic, a sensibility inclined towards artistry can add a little shine to what others may consider tedium.

I can't say that getting to this point in my life hasn't been probably far more stressful than it should have been—it certainly has been an incredibly unique experience. However, I am finding great comfort in knowing I can begin the process of regaining what I have lost over the prior few years, and picking up where I left off.




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