20 October 2011

Why I Write

Today, Twitter is full of writers telling us all why they do what they do. Some of the answers are golden, some are spectacularly witty and some are simple. My reasons fit somewhere on that spectrum:

  • If I didn't, they'd commit me for being a schizophrenic who plays with her imaginary friends and believes in fairies. 
  • I feed on the tortured screams of my beta readers when I fuck with their heads. *score!*
  • IT'S FUN!!
So, that's why I write. Pretty simple. But, there's more than that, isn't there?

I don't just write... I drive myself crazy with edits and revisions. I work on putting query materials together--query letters and dreaded synopses. I research agents and publishers and get them organized into a nifty spreadsheet. Then, I do the unthinkable and  *send* these query letters to publishing professionals. I put my writing out there to be rejected time and time again. Why? Because I want to get published. I want to see my book on a shelf. I want to realize that dream and finish what I started. It's not enough to just write anymore. Oh, no, I passed the "hobby" part of writing years ago. I'm in too deep, kids. I have to get this brass ring. It's a passion and compulsion. 

What seems to confuse people is that I outright refuse to self-publish. Now, for some people this is not only a viable option, it's a perfect fit for their goals. More power to those people. However, traditional publishing is the way for *me* to meet *my* personal goals. Is it harder? More frustrating? 

yes. 

I could just go on Amazon or Smashwords or any other site and put my book up on the web and hope my friends and family buy it...maybe a stranger or four. And I could say, "Look, I'm published." But it would be hollow. That's not me. That's not what I'm after

For me, going the route of self-publishing (at this time) would be akin to giving up. And I don't do that. 

I have a lot of friends and family members who are supportive of this strange need I have to write about people who don't exist. I'm blessed in that regard. Every day I get an email or link on some site or other telling me how many times JK Rowling or the lady who wrote The Help got rejected. Inevitably, I also get the emails telling me how self-publishing has worked for this or that person. How I should "stop wasting my time" on legacy/traditional publishing and join the throngs of people "succeeding" with self/vanity publishers. Please understand that I appreciate your concerns, but that's not something I want. 

Lit. Agent Rachelle Gardner posted a terrific blog about publishing in the technological age we inhabit. It's a terrific reality check for writers. Go read it. The part that really stuck out to me was this:
...publishers bring is a sense of history, a sense of tradition and permanence. Many authors still want to be a part of that. It’s about great stories and important thoughts. It’s about legacy. It’s about a dream. People in publishing still see this dream as worth it. They’re willing to swim against the tide because publishing isn’t just a business, it’s a life, it’s a calling, it’s a passion.

That's it.
That's why I do what I do the way I do it.

Crazy? Well, we already knew that was true. Masochistic? Perhaps. But doing things "the hard way" seems to work out for the best.

Keep moving forward, writers. Follow your passion in whichever direction(s) it leads you. The dream is worth the effort.

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