Why I Write

First, I’d like to thank everyone who entered the drawing for Have a Bite. I’ve notified the winners privately. Congratulations to them both!

Several writer friends have tumblr_mqfghrrmtX1ssihnmo1_500recently expressed frustration and dismay over the lack of response to their books and dismal sales. This has been particularly hard on the first-time authors.

I wanted so much to put their minds at ease and I told them what I could to make them feel better. I didn’t lie. I told them the truth, which is that they need to keep writing and publishing to build up their backlists. And it’s with that backlist that they will build a following.

But while that’s true, it’s very difficult for a newly published writer to maintain a positive outlook when your royalty checks are so tiny that you can’t even buy a pizza with them. It makes it harder to write that next book.

948ffd37b17a65ea2b0c000aac1489f4Even more seasoned writers have expressed similar frustrations lately. I’ve experienced this myself at times. I’ve had numerous discussions with different writers on the subject. And here’s the conclusion I came to:

You have to write because you want to.

2It’s hardly a new concept. In fact, it’s an age-old mantra that’s been worded in different ways. Write for yourself. Write for the love of the craft. Write to please yourself. Write because it’s in your soul.Why-I-Write xx

But when you start publishing, you get caught up in royalties, marketing, sales charts, Amazon reviews, ratings on Goodreads, and all sorts of things that are all paths to sales and money. And we’re diverted from the path that we first set upon—the one where we write because we love it, because we’re compelled to do it, because it feeds our souls.tumblr_m8pmjpvDXn1r60r3yo1_400

It’s not that difficult to get back on that path. There’s nothing you have to do. You just need to remind yourself of why you’re doing it.tumblr_m0sl9lVvzK1r60r3yo1_500

Yes, we all want to be published. Yes, we’d all love to be bestsellers. Yes, we’d all squeal with glee at the sight of a nice, big, fat royalty check. It’s disingenuous to say that it’s not something we hope for. But at the end of the day, it’s not why we write. It can’t be. Writing is a notoriously low-paying profession, so it’s not why we started it.

So, why did you start it? What called you to your first written words? What drove you to write down that story that was in your head?6d05b7b1249b88ce8223ba91bf9f0925

For me, writing was the only way I could express myself, because being very shy and introverted, I had no words to speak. I was socially awkward as a kid (um, still am?), and I could make characters interact in ways that I couldn’t. I was bullied, and I could create characters who embodied everything I wished I was. I could show how intelligent and creative I was, without ever uttering a word, without looking at anyone in the eye. And, from the safety of my anonymity, I could shine.

Ask yourself the questions above. Whatever the answers are, that’s why you write.

Always remember that.

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10 thoughts on “Why I Write

  1. Thanks for this blog, R.G. Very timely as my debut novel (Along Came the Rain) was published 6 weeks ago and although it’s getting rave reviews from complete strangers, that doesn’t necessarily convert to sales. So it has made me start thinking about what I’m looking for as an author. I’m glad your friend has a writing group, as just yesterday I was thinking that I definitely should have either a group or a mentor. Writing can be an isolating occupation. Thanks again.

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  2. A reminder many of us need from time to time, thank you. Hugh Howey agrees with you regarding an author’s backlist. That’s where a following is made. His advice is like yours, keep writing for the love of the written word and the rest of it will follow.

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  3. All of the above, yes. But for me, I want to share the characters who tapped me on the shoulder and told me their stories ( not to make writing sound too mystical, I hope). I love them and, as I would do with any friend, want to introduce them around. I was surprised at my first royalty check, pleasantly so, but even if it had been a total disaster, the second book was already written. I get so involved in what’s happening in Sarah’s and Win’s lives, I’ll keep writing to find out. I think there are so many motivations to write, to need to write, that anyone who ignores them is losing part of their process on this Earthwalk.
    So, write on! Stay involved with what you’re trying to say, keep learning how to say it better and may She bless us all!

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  4. Why I write? Because there are some books that I want to read, and nobody else seems to be writing them. (Heard the one about the woman who found out that she could be Christian and lesbian at the same time? The one about the bisexual who didn’t dump anybody for anybody? No, thought not.) Or, if they are, nobody’s publishing them.

    Actually, that’s the lovely thing about self-publishing: I had to come to terms very early on with the fact that I probably wouldn’t ever make much money off it, and now I just write whatever the hell I want. It’s remarkably liberating.

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  5. Great article, RG. Love it. Yeah, writing keeps me sane. And besides: tell someone a tale, and they’ll call you a liar. Write a tale, and they’ll call you an artist.

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  6. As the pub date for Matters of the Heart approaches and the list of things to do to get ready gets longer and longer, it’s good to be reminded of this, RG. I came to writing late and started the journey because I wanted to see if I could write a novel. Publication was not part of it for me. I write because it soothes my soul, like meditation.

    Just this morning as I was doing something related to publication, I thought, why am I doing this? All I want to do is write. Thanks again, RG.
    Catherine

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