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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Why

I sat down this morning with the intention of putting something on my blog but with no ideas about what. Distracted by hunger, I got up and made some scrambled eggs. Since it's easier to read while eating than to write while eating, I went into my email to read some messages from The Write Practice. There was an article titled "The Odds Are Against You, Might As Well Get to Writing." While it presents some daunting statistics about the scant chances of commercial success for a writer, it encourages authors to write all the same. It triggered some thoughts about why I do this.

First, it's not for the money. Yes, I get paid when people buy my books. I wish more people would to get me to the point where I make a comfortable living at it. Do I expect to move into a mansion and have servants and all that? No. Comfortable would be just fine, but I'm not even to that point yet.

Second, I know the odds are against fame and a Pulitzer Prize, and neither of those things ever inspired me to write. Recognition is certainly nice, and I get some of that now and again. Nobody stops me on the street or in the grocery store to indicate they recognize me. I'm not a household name and wouldn't expect to be unless I get more books sold.

Third, I've already proven that I can write a novel, get it published, and get paid. Therefore, what drives me is not a sense of accomplishment from doing once what many are never able to do.

So what, then, is the point? Why do I do it?

As I imply on my websites, I can't NOT write. It goes on in my head whether I want it to or not. Story ideas, scenes, bits of dialog, characters and their relationships--my imagination keeps generating the stuff. The only way to control it is to put words together in a "permanent" way. Only, that just makes room for more stuff to gush out of my brain. It's as if there is a story that must be told, and since I don't have throngs of people waiting with bated breath to hear me tell it, into print it must go. Once it's in a manuscript, why not try to get it published? I have, and it continues to be a rewarding experience. Just not monetarily rewarding. Yet.

I've often heard advice from big-time authors who say not to try to write to the market. Just because Young Adult vampire/shapeshifter/zombie/wizard stories are the rage one day doesn't mean that the thirst for such books won't be quenched by the time YOUR book finds its way to the marketplace. The best advice I ever heard was, "Write the book that is in you."

Which is what I do. There seem to be many of them in there waiting to get put down in words. Fine by me. I would continue to do it even if nobody wanted to publish or read anything I wrote. But I think someone who writes stories of any length actually taps a common well of human experience which stands to ultimately touch others. Writing stories is a high form of communication, of human communication, of sharing experience and ideas and emotions. Perhaps that is the bottom line of why it feels so rewarding.

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