Why do authors write? Fame, fortune, recognition, their name in print? None of this is immediately obtainable for ninety nine percent of authors. It often takes years or longer to get anything published let alone something that will make the best sellers list. So, why write? Writing is said to be a self-serving isolation. If one hopes to be published, you need to read, delve into what is out there now, to know what will sell, who will want to buy it and who will be willing to publish. One might consider that it cost very little to write. Though pen and paper is somewhat inexpensive, that act of writing can be very expensive in terms of relationships, money if you attend classes or workshops, buy a desk, computer, printer, paper and ink, bindings, internet so you can communicate to publishers and agents. To be famous? Very few, when you consider the number of books in print, ever become household names. Your name in print? I could self-publish if that’s the only reason. So why write?
Today I read a posting on Facebook that I followed to a blog that touted the ability of an author to save one from insanity. Curious I read the blog . In a time of economic turmoil, when so many of my friends and some family are out of work, one person found hope in reading. He did not find work, a job, money, fame, or a way out of his situation; he found a way to survive. One of the casualties of being unemployed is self-worth and by escaping into a book for a little while each day, at least this man was able to cope. This is why I write.
I don’t have some idealistic expectation that anyone will ever write a blog like this about my writing, but if I can make one person’s day a little less…. mundane, a little more enjoyable, then I can go to sleep at night feeling as if I’ve accomplished something. We can get lost in the craft of writing and forget the why. Editing to the point of perfection doesn’t make a better story; sometimes it makes a story bad.
For the last weeks I’ve been immersing myself in the act of editing and rewrites so I can submit a single manuscript to an agent/publisher who might never get past the query letter. I’ve fretted and irritated over a word here, a line there, punctuation and nuances till I wanted to throw up my hands, scream, and toss it all into the shredder as a bad idea. It’s not a single manuscript, I have ten, but it wouldn’t matter if it were one or one hundred, I took myself into a place that felt like a chasm I’d never climb my way out of. I lost my reasons for writing and I sat there thinking, why do authors write?
Even my writing group lately gave me pause, was I simply wasting their time as well as mine? No one said that. I’m not being arrogant when I say that my writing group encourages me to write because what I write has merit. I trust these people to tell me if I don’t cut muster, maybe even be heartless in a kind way, but they don’t. I have very talented people in my group, they’re honest and I trust that they point out where I have flaws in thought or structure. One went so far as to tell me to knock it off, paraphrasing, and get back to writing. With her help and not so gentle nudge, I made a promise to myself to write today, not just a blog, but I’ll get to that later. No edits or rewrites, step away from the business of publishing and write.
Two things happened today. First I posted my intentions on my Facebook status and low and behold, one of my beta readers basically said…it’s about time. Guess she’s missed getting something to read, always nice to know you’re missed. Two I read the post and then the blog and thought… that’s why I write.
I don’t write for the publishers or the agents or even future readers. I write for myself, first and foremost. I write for my family who read. I write for my beta readers. And I write for my writers group. I don’t write for the money, fame or recognition. I don’t write to be perfect, but to tell a story and hope someone’s day will be made a little better. So thank you to all those who believe my stories make your day a little brighter, you’re why I write. (Not that I would turn down monetary compensation, but it’s not the why.)
Why do you write?