Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why I Write What I Write

Now that I'm starting to write again, I don't know what I'm going to work on.  So far, I've only been going over my past work, reading through 50,000 words of an incomplete novel I wrote 6 years ago.  It holds promise, but I'm not quite feeling it.  That thrill of the storyline and love of the characters isn't there, and I'm left wondering if I can get the emotional stimulation necessary to finish it.

I may have to find something else to write, or just keep trying to get interested.

In order to write anything, it has to be something that I want to write.  That's the way it has always worked for me.  Writing is about me telling a story that I enjoy, exploring things that draw me in as the creator, revealing the worlds inside my mind in a way that satisfies that creative part of me.  It gives me purpose, and fuels the creative process.  If I can't get into the story, if my mind doesn't care about what's going on, then I find it exceedingly difficult to proceed.

This is of course not the method that all writers use.  I've read so many "advice" columns from people saying that to be a writer you have to write whatever will pay, take whatever work in the publishing industry you can get, and if you keep grinding away inside the machine you'll someday get your reward and "be allowed" to write what you want.  That's all well and good for some, but it's not for me.

Another common occurrence that I've run into over the years is friends and family who like to suggest that I "write what sells."  I know they're only trying to help, but it serves no purpose and can get annoying, as trying to dismiss their advice feels like talking to a brick wall.  They're so sure if I write "something else" that I'll be a big success.  Whether it's my father telling me to write about weirdoes in the woods, or friends suggesting I write anything from "serious mainstream fiction" to "teen chick-lit," it's not going to happen.  It wouldn't increase my chances of fame and fortune to write it, and because I'd hate doing it I would end up with a totally unmarketable piece of pulp nobody would ever want to read.

With writing, I'm not one to "climb the ladder," or "play the game."  It's not that I don't respect that approach.  It's just not me.  In my case, doing that would suck the life out of me, and writing would become a job that I didn't enjoy.  The creative flames inside me would die, and I'd be a horrid hack, writing words just to make money with no pleasure or fulfillment.  So, I have learned that the only way I can write is on my own terms.  If this means I will fail to gain an appreciable audience, then so be it.  To gain a million readers and lose my soul would be worse than having a handful of people reading what I want them to enjoy.

So, going forth in 2017, I will seek to create something new that others will enjoy.  It's all I can do, and so I will strive to accomplish that yet again.

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