"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why I Write

Today is the “Why I Write Blogfest” hosted by Kayeleen Hamblin. If you would like to join in the fun, please visit Kayeleens Creation Corner.
So, why do I write? The answer is simple - because I am driven to do so.
“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” - George Orwell
The desire to write can be a very fulfilling compulsion. You are creating something new, original and hopefully compelling to readers. However, Orwell was correct that it can be a horrible, exhausting struggle. If you are like me, there is a bit of the perfectionist in you and you will never be completely finished or happy with your art. You just have to decide when to let it go.
Below is an updated version of my post (Dec. 2010) tited “Why Do You Write?”

I fell in love with writing at the age of ten when my cousin and I were playing school. I was the student and she was the teacher – that time. My writing assignment for her became the first of many. I was hooked, in love with the writing process.
I’ve written a lot of fiction and poetry, but (until recently and with the exception of one poem) I’ve only tried to publish my newspaper articles – at least under my real name. I suppose in many ways my writing is a personal experience. I was writing for me, for my enjoyment, for my personal expression and I didn’t want to explain myself to anyone. Some of my pieces are similar to diary entries since they express emotions or circumstances I experienced at the time.
When asking others, I usually hear two answers to the question “Why do you write?” The “It’s-in-my-soul type” (which I have always been a part) claim they write to express themselves and enjoy the creative process. That’s honest and to-the-point. These writers can be happy journaling for themselves or just to share with friends.
The second group says “I want to be published or paid to write” (which I am now a part – I figure if I enjoy writing so much, why worry what others think and I might as well get paid for it). If this is you, it’s not that tough. Modern technology allows easy publication with blogs, websites, or self-publishing your books.
However, if you want a legitimate or well-known publisher to pick up your work, you may have to write about topics that bore you. I’ve done this before. Some will tell you it’s a sell out, but hey, it’s a paycheck and a credit on your resume’. Unless you’re very lucky, you’ll never make millions of dollars writing, but many can make a decent living doing so.
If money is more important to you than the byline or author credit, or if you are the shy writer who doesn’t want the attention, consider ghost writing. Many authors will actually pay you more than they get for the piece to write it for them. They do this because they don’t have time or the inclination to write the required pieces for their editor. The reason the author will offer to pay you more than they will get for the piece (and believe me, you will have to sign a confidentiality clause contract) is because they are protecting their name and credibility. You might be surprised how many “popular” authors today employ ghost writers.
I see many writers committing to write, submit or publish a specific amount of their work. They are so worried about the quantity, I wonder if they will lose quality and I can’t help but ask them “Why do you write?”


Rob-bear said...

And some of us are natural-born story tellers, Sylvia. We're 21st century bards and troubadours.

Write with you said...

Nice post, Sylvia. I also belong to the cult of writers who write because they enjoy it. Being published and paid to write is just an extremely nice bonus.


Lisa Ricard Claro said...

That Orwell quote is on target. LOL I write for myself first and publication second. Writing only for publication purposes rather than pleasure would be soul-sucking, and I fear would turn the writing I love so much into a chore. Writing is my escape, and with it I can go anywhere. :)

Linny said...

Interesting post Sylvia. I am surprised by the idea that many popular authors employ ghost writers!

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

I'm with you. I write for myself, for the comfort, challenge, for the love of writing. I'd love to share it with someone else, but if I never do, I'll still write.

M Pax said...

I agree that writing a novel is hard, almost torturous, so we have to love what we do.

I've heard that about published 'names'.

Some folks are so quick, I don't know whether they're brighter than me or what. But it depends what you write.

Liesl Shurtliff said...

Love that quote by George Orwell. Thanks for sharing!

Beverly Diehl said...

I just left a comment on another blog, about (I think it was Heinlein) about the idea that since money is a symbol of value received, it is foolish to sneer at it.

Plus, money makes it easier to keep the lights on.

I suspect though, that even writers who say they are doing it for the money, must love the craft even if they are too shy to admit it.

Summer Ross said...

"The desire to write can be a very fulfilling compulsion."

absolutely! Great post!

Arlee Bird said...

I agree with what you've said here. If I didn't write there would be an empty spot in my life that would be difficult to adequately fill. I will always find some reason to write something.

Tossing It Out

Paula Martin said...

Asking me why I write is the same as asking me why I breathe!

Precy Larkins said...

Great post, Sylvia! And so informative. Thanks for sharing :)

Christine Tyler said...

That quote is the bomb.

Sharon Reece said...

Enjoyed your perspective on this. I'm also one of the perfectionists which meant that our book took about 3 years longer than it should have to come out in print.

jan said...

I wish to humbly disagree with Mr. Orwell. Writing the book is challenging but fulfilling and kinda fun. It's the rejections and deadlines that take the pleasure out of it. Boo. Hiss.

Michelle Wallace said...

I think that you have to be passionate about writing ~ and then "the rest" will fall into place (whatever that may be ... different things for different people ... )

Anonymous said...

If we're honest, I think most of us would say we would love to make money writing. I would. But I keep writing because among other things that's what I am, a writer. Sometimes I HAVE felt like I was possessed by a "demon." I have always loved to write. I don't worry about quantity because I'm not trying to write as a "career."

A thought-provoking post, Sylvia. Thanks!

KM Nalle said...

Well now I'd love to know who's got a ghost writer and who doesn't. I enjoy the process of creation to much to let someone else do it. That and I'm a perfectionist...

Paul Sunstone said...

Thank you for such an interesting post!

I've often enough wondered what it is like to write -- and write well -- from an early age, as you have. I myself came late to doing much writing beyond necessity. A good therapist pestered me for months to take up blogging.

I finally did, but it was quite annoying at first. Nevertheless, I eventually got him back -- by writing about him on my blog, naturally.

I haven't given much thought to trying to earn money from writing. For one thing, I'm not in that league. So, I think I would starve before I had the knack of it.

Kristi said...

Thanks for sharing!

I love the quotes and am definitely in the "It's-in-my-soul" camp!

New follower here! ;P