WHY DO WE WRITE? REVISITED
In an article last year titled Write Write Write, I brought up the question, Why do we write? Recently, that question came up with someone close who had a great idea for a genre fiction series. She has what she believes is a dynamite idea and wants to run with it.
After we got through the usual explanations of copywrite and why she doesn’t need to just yet, the discussion came down to why she wanted to do this in the first place.
I asked her point blank. “Why do you want to write this story? This series?”
She thought about it a minute. “I think it’s a great idea.”
Then I presented her with the big question: Motivation. “That’s all fine and dandy. However, just because it’s a great idea doesn’t mean you should be writing it. Why do you want to write it? What do you expect to get out of it? Do you want to write it because it’s something inside you that needs to come out? Or, do you want to write it because you think this idea will make you a million bucks?”
That rather wordy but necessary question gave her pause. I knew it would, and that was the point. Knowing what writing is all about and having gone into this game for what I think is the right reasons, I wanted to see what she would say.
“I’m not sure.”
She’s already written a few pages. I reviewed them and gave her a few pointers. Time has been her biggest problem so far. Writing is a commitment and there has to be a reason to continue. She hasn’t been able to get back to this story for a while and just started thinking about it again.
I honestly don’t believe making money is a good enough reason to go on because the chances of this great idea panning out, no matter how great it might be, are slim. It can happen if you believe in yourself and keep at it, but like I can testify to, it doesn’t always happen or always happen fast. If your motivation is money, you might as well quit right now and find another hobby, because that’s all this really is to most of us, a hobby.
I asked her, “Do you enjoy writing? Do you enjoy creating the big lie? Will you enjoy tearing apart your masterpiece and redoing it from the ground up? Will you be able to accept when others with experience tell you it isn’t that good, or you are making massive mistakes? Will you still enjoy it then?
I gave her something to think about. She only nodded. I think she may come around and continue with this project. My aim isn’t to scare her away from her great idea. However, the last thing I want is to see her doing it for the wrong reasons. To be a writer, you have to love writing. I do. If I didn’t, I’d wouldn’t be here writing these weekly articles. Putting out the stories on my web page, writing the Observer’s Challenge for the LVAS, popping out a short story when I feel like it. Or, maybe coming up with a new idea for a novel but having to shelve it because I’m already in the middle of another one.
Finally, I asked her, are you ready for agents and/or publishers to tell you they think your fantastic idea is stupid? Or tell you your idea doesn’t excite them? Maybe even tell you your idea might have merit if you change it so and so? Are you ready for the humiliation of a nasty critique or rejection?
I gave her some questions to ponder. In fact, I told her not to even try to answer them yet. Stew on it for awhile. As writers, especially those of you that haven’t read my earlier articles, have you asked yourselves these questions? Why do you do this self-torture, as some like to call it? Nothing about it is self-torture to me. I even like the editing! I write first for myself, for the pleasure of creating something special. Whether it pans out and someone else likes it is secondary. If I can sell it, so much the better. When it comes to the point where I start selling lots of books, I can focus on pleasing my fan base.
I’m still waiting to hear her answer.
How about you?