Greg Mitchell who blogs along with me and the other Realms authors at Just The Write Charisma asked this question last week, Why Do I Bother? Of course this question made me wonder. Hmm. Scary thought, Greg. No wonder you write speculative fiction. So in my usual style I went into research mode, but on myself this time instead of a novel.
My third book, Mystery of the Heart, releases in January 2013 and that wraps up my current and only contract. So I picked up my copy of Stein on Writing on a nearby bookshelf. Sol Stein says, “If you are a writer, you are never retired by someone else. You not only keep going, but the very act of writing helps keep you alive.” So true. With all the talk about traditional publishing verses indie publishing the one thing I have to remember is that whether I continue to publish or not I don’t have to quit writing. There is reward in the writing itself but I do love a paycheck. And I do believe the act of writing has kept me alive by not internalizing the stress of difficult life experiences. Writing is better than an ulcer, indigestion, or high blood pressure. If you write through life difficulties you might save your health and have fodder for new novel ideas.
Later I read through my June 2012 copy of The Writer Magazine You must, absolutely must read Pat Conroy’s article entitled, Interpreting the World Through Story. I can’t copy and paste his article here or I would if I wouldn’t get in trouble. I wanted to share every word with you so instead I’ll just share a few words and you’ll have to read the article yourself. “The idea of a novel should stir your blood. It should be instinctual, incurable, unanswerable, and a calling, not a choice.” Do I feel that way? Sometimes. Do you feel that way?
He also talked about his childhood and the role it played in his writing. Have you ever read, The Great Santini? Conroy says, “My mother’s voice and my father’s fist’s are the two bookends of my childhood, and they form the basis of my art.” Wow! If you want to explore some deep psychological issues write down your own bookends.
Each of us have reasons for writing. Every once in awhile we should revisit the question Greg asked, Why Do I Bother? There's a difference in the need to write, the want to write, and the have to write for a contract. I good time to think about these things if you are a published author is between contracts. I would encourage unpublished writers to explore their reasons for pursuing publication. Is it the desire to know that you were able to reach that self-imposed pinnacle? To get rich and famous? To share your thoughts with others? To answer a calling? To give an offering? To discover a purpose?
In the same issue of The Writer Magazine, Maeve Binchy provides A Little Inspiration and discusses the issue of finishing the book. She states, "If you stop now, let's look at what you have wasted." This hit home for me. I wrote and studied the craft for twenty years before I received a contract.Are you willing to work that long and invest in yourself that heavily? Only you can make that decision. As for me, I'm going to spend a lot of time talking to my family, to my agent, and to God. For now I'm going to try and remember Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:
“Let us labor for an inward stillness--
An inward stillness and an inward healing.
That perfect silence where the lips and heart
Are still, and we no longer entertain
Our own imperfect thoughts and vain opinions,
But God alone speaks to us and we wait
In singleness of heart that we may know
His will, and in the silence of our spirits,
That we may do His will and do that only.”
Have you had the write conversation?