A couple years ago I spent my winter break writing, almost obsessively. I think I got 25,000 words on The Book done in two weeks. Last year I made a sweater or two. This winter break, in comparison, I've made a pair of socks, five (or six or seven) hats, a tote bag, did some finishing work on a sweater, and hopefully before the end of it, I'll have finished another sweater (sleeves and some trim left).
Oh how the times they change.
Over the past two years, knitting has surpassed writing as my primary avocation. I think this is in part due to the fact that knitting engages a complete different part of my brain than my "work" (psychology, women's/gender/queer studies), where as writing (and the reading that one has to do in order to write) are what I do "in the real world." Knitting is escape, and writing became too much work. So I stopped, or more appropriately switched.
Also, I think I hit a brick wall with writing. I got to a point where I needed to publish more of my work, and publish it in respectable places. Print. Publications people have heard of. Money was an issue to. I didn't want to throw my work into a black hole, and I felt (and still feel) that money signifies something important. If a publisher can afford to pay you, even a pittance, it means that s/he is making a profit on the publication, which means that people are reading it, and publishing (and money) was a way to ensure that my work was being read.
In order to write at this level, one has to be (I think) a little better than I was or perhaps am. One also has to be really persistent, and dedicate a sizeable percentage of one's time to pitching what you think are really great ideas (that you've put a lot of energy into) to editors who aren't going to accept your idea. As a "Writer" you have to spend so much time doing things other than writing that, when it comes time to actually write you, or I, don't really have the energy and/or will to write.
And now, as my writing interests are starting to turn in academic directions, I find that even though my transcript says I'm a second semester sophomore, I have a long way to go before I think I'll feel comfortable contributing to the discourse.
I think another issue that I faced, was that I'm contrary by nature. Like when I was a mobile tech guru, I was interested in using the gadgets as text delivery systems, and as ways to write portably, while everyone else was interested in vertical market solutions, graphics processing, widget type applications, and the like. As a knitter, I'm interested in a completely different different type of garment construction, style, and fiber content, than just about every designer. As a women's studies major, I'm interested in men and male relationships. As a science fiction writer, I'm interested in people, and politics not technology and science. As a queer/gender theory-person, I'm interested in gasp male (sexual) identities, and not (particularly) in the milieux of trans issues. As a psychologist, I reject the way psychologists construct binary gender, and treat the discipline as an absolute and concrete scientific study.
You call it a niche, I call it being misunderstood and unpublishable. Having said that, I do recognize that being "contrary" will make me different and particularly define my work. I suppose different is preferable to being the same, as long as I can manage to not piss everyone off and find publishers who will take my work.
Having said that, I'd really like to start writing again. I should try and write fiction again, because I'm no poet (despite the fact that the only good pieces of creative writing I have at the moment are a series of poems I wrote last year). The problem with this is that I've never been good with short stories mostly because I've never been one to read them, and I really don't have an idea of how to go about writing fiction that isn't science fiction. But how different can regular fiction be from science fiction?
Famous Last Words.