Friday, July 11, 2008

On Writing

I had someone comment the other day that it must be difficult to set my work aside and relax due to all the stress associated with it. I mistakenly thought he was referring to my day job because some of what I come in contact with can be heart-wrenching. When he explained that he meant my writing it really surprised me.

To me, writing isn’t work. The necessary promos and website maintenance, yes, those are work, but not the writing itself. That’s something I do because one, I have to for the characters living within my mind and two, because I truly enjoy it.

I will never be a well-known commercial writer, not that there’s anything wrong with those who are. I know individuals that have an idea and are more than capable of sitting down and writing it into a story that they know will sell. I both respect and admire them as we all should. Doing so on a consistent basis isn’t easy. It requires a lot of talent and dedication.

But that’s not me. I write first and foremost for myself. I always have. I will continue to do so. I started out because a friend I share books with challenged me. We had read the same thing and were discussing how disappointing is was. I made the claim to be able to do better and she dared me to prove it. I’d been having an ongoing dream so I wrote it down. She enjoyed reading it as much as I had writing it so I proceeded with other stories I had swirling around my head. I showed a few more friends and eventually they ganged up on me, nagging until I submitted something.

So off went one of my books to Ellora’s Cave and not even the one I feel is my best. I waited, fully expecting a rejection which I planned to use to make my well-meaning friends leave me alone. You can imagine my shock when I received a contract offer instead.

As much as I love my friends, none of them ever knew, until now that is, just how close I was to saying no thank you. Me? A published author? I really didn’t see it. Who on earth would ever want to pay money to read anything I’d written? But then I sat down and gave it some very serious consideration and signed the contract. I remembered Ellora’s Cave isn’t in the business of being nice to people. They provide books, good ones, to their target audience. If they thought people would like what I’d written then why not see where this might lead?

Being published has been an overall good experience, interesting too. I’m proud of my books. Through them, I’ve encountered some truly wonderful individuals from all walks of life. There’s a part of me that’s too curious to stop now.

As I said, I’ll always write just for me first. I’ll submit in order to share with everyone else after I’m through picking over a book and am happy with the final result. I make myself a little insane at times, obsessing over a section until it’s just right but that’s me. Even when I’m doing that and mad as can be at my characters for not helping me since I know they could provide the perfect words, it’s still fun.

So to respond to the gentleman’s statement, I don’t step away from my writing. When I’m out and about doing other things my characters are always with me. On the whole they tone it down when they know I am preoccupied elsewhere but there are times when it’s difficult not to lose myself in their antics. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Okay writers, your turn. Do you consider writing work or is it something you do because it’s part of who you are?

Tour de France Update - Winner Stage 7, July 11 – Sanchez, Spain
Overall Leader – Kirchen, Luxemburg
Cadel Evans, Australia still 2nd


Anika Hamilton said...

I am like you. I enjoy writing so much. I don't consider it work, never have. I do hate the promotion things, but I love the writing.

Amarinda Jones said...

Writing is a business to me. I think people get too caught up in trivialities and get burned by publishing as they have not developed the thick skin required for this business. Yes, you can enjoy it but to me it's not a hobby - it's a second job. In saying that I write because I choose to and I could retire from it tomorrow.

Neeley said...

I will never forget the night you got accepted to Ellora's that I spent yelling at you over the phone on my porch. It's one of my favorite memories of all time, run-in with the boy's dad and all. Just one of the many times you have made my night - and you know I think you are a great writer. Keep writing for you! <3

Kelly Kirch said...

I for one, am so glad you didn't say no. Congratulations all over again, doll.

Sandra Cox said...

Keep up the great work, Ms. Barbara. You're amazing.