1/18/09

Why do we write?



Yesterday I attended a meeting of Kentucky Romance Writers, my local chapter of Romance Writers of America.  As always, it was fun and refreshing to be among my fellow writers... to hang out with people who are just as nutty as me about books and words and romance and reading.  Our guest speaker was the very gracious Michael Embry, a member of our group, who gave a presentation called "Pitfalls in Publishing".  

He shared some of his experiences in the publishing industry, some humorous and some unfortunate.  As it turns out, other published authors who were at the meeting shared similar experiences.  An author's book is contracted by an editor at a publishing company, only to have the editor leave the publishing company before the book is published, taking the manuscript so that no one else at the company can find it.  A publishing company closes before an author who contracted with them gets to see his book in print.  An author discovers that her books are missing pages, and rather than ending on page 275, the final 100 pages are missing.  Unexpected expenses mean the author's already small royalty checks are even smaller.

With all these pitfalls, I started thinking "What's the point?"

But I knew the point.

The point is the writing.  Sure, all of us wanna-be-published-authors would love to make a ton of money.  But for the vast majority of us, that's a very, very small part of the dream.  We write because we love it.  We write because it's fulfilling on a very personal level.  We write because we have to.  

In our group of writers there is great diversity.  Some write historical.  Some pen steamy romantic stories.  Others write sweet, still others suspense and mystery.  But for all of us, I suspect the "root" of the writing is the same.

For me, writing gives me something that's mine alone.  I think many women are in the same situation as me... with jobs and families that need our attention and hang lots of responsibilities on us.  Everyday I'm a teacher to over 300 students, a wife to a really cool guy, a mom to three wild boys.  But sometimes I forget about myself.  Sometimes days and weeks go by before I realize that I'm something to everybody else in my life, but nothing to myself.

That's where writing comes in.  Oh, there are plenty of times it goes on the back-burner, as I deal with sick babies, extra duties at work, bill-paying, and all the other stuff that goes along with being a 30-something woman in a middle class family.  But I know the writing is there, and when I find time to get to it, it centers me, brings me back to myself, reminds me that there's a person inside me who's JUST ME.  

My characters are who I want them to be... even though sometimes they become something other than I originally intended.  I get to go places in my writing that I only dream about in my real life.  I experience adventure, intrigue, romance, humor.  I control the destinies of the people in my stories.  I escape the real world for a bit in favor of a world of my own creation.

I write because I have to, and for whatever bit of life I give my characters, the writing gives me SO MUCH MORE than I give it.

Why do you write?  I'd love to know!

7 comments:

  1. You sound like me. I picked my writing back up in 2006 when I realized I was wearing so many "hats" for everyone else, I'd neglected the me I once was. The one who dreamed constantly of writing novels and making a go of it in the industry.

    I was wife and mother, cook and housekeeper. I wrote out the bills, made the grocery lists, helped with homework, but in all of that jumble, where had I disappeared to?

    I found myself the moment I dug through my closet and found all my old writings, scribbles and notes and half-baked stories and readjusted my priorities just a little bit so that I came higher on the list than I used to. I found a new confidence and determination.

    I suppose Asimov said it best- "I write for the same reason I breathe- because if I didn't, I would die."

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  2. Amy:
    You summed it up very nicely. I don't know what I would do, how I would keep my sanity, if I didn't put pen to paper. It's such a part of my life.
    And though I can't depend on my royalties to feed me, I can hold my books in my hand and see my words in print and be proud of what I've accomplished.
    Teresa r.

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  3. That's it exactly. We can't abandon ourselves... we must realize that we can prioritize the things that are important to us and be better spouses, parents, and employees because of that. And if writing is going to be successful for us, even on the smallest level, I think it must be done for the love of it alone. Thanks for commenting!

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  4. Hi, Amy! Very nice post. So glad I discovered your blog. Your summation of the reasons why we write pretty much hit the nail on the head--at least for me. As you know, getting published was not the end of the rainbow I always dreamed it would be. Quite the opposite. Eight months ago, I decided to give it up completely. See where I am now? Can't do it. Can't just hang up the keyboard and walk away. It's in the blood, or something. I actually think for some of us, it's a calling and we are compelled to do it. That's why I've never understood these people who, later in life, quite suddenly decide to write as a career move.

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  5. Well, I'm particularly glad you weren't able to give it up, Devon! And I know that for you writing an intensely personal journey, one that gives you something really important that you NEED! And even though getting published wasn't the end of the rainbow for you, you've done what only a small percentage of people do. Not only did you write a book... you got to see it in print. If nothing else, that's a source of pride and accomplishment for you. And no matter what else happens with anyone else in your life, all of US will be here to celebrate it with you and be proud of you! Hugs to you, Devon! So glad you're back!

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  6. Hi, Amy!Great post. Well I had a perfectly lovely response all typed and blogger here has eaten it. Errr. Ah, well.
    Basically I said, we are so fortunate as writers to have an outlet, stories to envelope ourselves within, characters to create. The written word provides such a delicious escape from the doldrums of everyday life, whether you are a writer or a reader. And as women, it is especially easy to forget to take time for ourselves. Writing feeds my inner self and offers a canvas for what often feels like a compulsion to create. It's also super fun and has allowed me the opportunity to get to know some fabulous new friends, like you, chica! Good luck with your blog and your books.

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  7. Amy, great post! Like everyone else, I write because I can't help myself! Not such a bad affliction, really...

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